In an op-ed published on Sunday, he said, “The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy, and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner.”
“Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized. Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage,” he continued.
The West Virginia senator went on to note laws introduced in several states by Republicans that “needlessly restrict voting.” However, he also appeared to take a shot at Democrats pushing sweeping election reform bills “who ignore the need to secure our elections.”
“Partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it,” Manchin said.
He argued that election reform bills should be compiled by Democrats and Republicans but noted that the For the People Act has no Republican support in the Senate.
He asked, “Why? Are the very Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump because of actions that led to an attack on our democracy unwilling to support actions to strengthen our democracy? Are these same senators, whom many in my party applauded for their courage, now threats to the very democracy we seek to protect?”
“The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” Manchin said.
He also noted that Democrats have suggested eliminating the filibuster, which essentially creates a 60 vote threshold for legislation to pass the Senate, and that “it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster” while former President Donald Trump was in office.
He asked, “Do we really want to live in an America where one party can dictate and demand everything and anything it wants, whenever it wants?”
Manchin said he supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would “update the formula states and localities must use to ensure proposed voting laws do not restrict the rights of any particular group or population.”
But he said, “I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. For as long as I have the privilege of being your U.S. senator, I will fight to represent the people of West Virginia, to seek bipartisan compromise no matter how difficult, and to develop the political bonds that end divisions and help unite the country we love.”
“American democracy is something special, it is bigger than one party, or the tweet-filled partisan attack politics of the moment. It is my sincere hope that all of us, especially those who are privileged to serve, remember our responsibility to do more to unite this country before it is too late,” he added.
Without Manchin’s vote for the bill, Democrats would be hard-pressed to pass the For the People Act through the Senate even if they eliminated the filibuster, which would allow them to pass legislation with just 51 votes, as Republican lawmakers are staunchly opposed to the legislation.
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