Stacey Abrams Singles Out Manchin & Sinema Over Voting Rights

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Voting rights activist and candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams called out Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) this week after the duo joined every Republican Senator to vote against changing Senate rules to allow for the passage of new protections for voting rights.

The rules at issue demand that at least 60 Senators agree before moving forward with most bills, including the voting rights proposals that Democrats had on deck this week, and the current party breakdown in the 100-member Senate is close enough that the Republican minority can easily block Democrats from passing these voting rights bills. Democratic leaders proposed a Senate rules change that would have forced Republicans to continuously talk to keep up their opposition to the voting rights bills; once they stopped talking, the process would move forward. Manchin and Sinema voted against this proposed change, sinking the voting rights initiative — yet again — for now.

Abrams said on Twitter that “52 Senators — two Democrats and all Republicans — failed their voters, allowing the filibuster to stand in the way of critical voting rights legislation.” Using similar language, a fundraising email from Abrams that went out after the Senate voted down the proposed rules change characterized Manchin and Sinema as having “neglected their voters.” As the email put it:

‘We are disappointed in the Senate’s vote — and equally disappointed in the few Democrats and EVERY Republican who neglected their voters. But we are determined to continue this fight on the ground, right here in Georgia. Because we must.’

President Joe Biden, who supported changing the rules to allow for the passage of these voting rights proposals, took a similar approach. As he put it, he was “disappointed — but I am not deterred. My Administration will never stop fighting to ensure that the heart and soul of our democracy — the right to vote — is protected at all costs. We will continue to work with allies to advance necessary legislation to protect the right to vote. And to push for Senate procedural changes that will protect the fundamental right to vote.” Sinema and Manchin have both trumpeted a push for bipartisanship in making the case for the Senate’s filibuster rules as they stand, but divisiveness isn’t the issue here. The problem is something far more specific: the nationwide effort by Republican leaders to essentially pointlessly restrict the electoral process. Limits on the usage of drop boxes for mail-in ballots, alongside new hurdles and restrictions around other methods of voting, can have significantly damaging effects.