Georgia’s Stacey Abrams said Thursday she supports West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposals for a compromise on voting reform, giving the plan some momentum as Democrats seek to unite against Republican efforts to impose restrictive new ballot rules across the country.
Abrams, a former candidate for Georgia governor and leading voting rights advocate, praised the moderate Democratic senator’s scaled-back policy demands even though it doesn’t go nearly as far as other left-wing proposals.
“What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks we need to ensure that democracy is accessible,” Abrams said on CNN. “The provisions that he is setting forth are strong ones that will create level playing field (and) create standards that do not vary from state to state.
“I think (they would) ensure that every American has improved access to the right to vote,” Abrams added.
Abrams notably said she does not oppose Manchin’s proposal to add a GOP-friendly provision requiring voter identification.
“No one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote,” Abrams said. “It’s been part of our nation’s history since the inception of voting.
“What’s been problematic is the type of restrictive I.D. that we’ve seen pop up,” she said.
Abrams’ blessing came after Texas Democratic lawmakers also praised Manchin’s plan after meeting with his staff Wednesday. The state’s Republicans are trying to push through one of the nation’s most restrictive voting bills.
“We’re very inspired to see Senator Manchin coming around on this issue,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. “America needs a better democracy.”
Martinez and another Texas lawmaker also met with Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the Biden administration’s push to pass new voting rights legislation.
Senate Democratic leaders have been urging their colleagues to get behind the For The People Act, a sweeping voting rights bill which has already passed in the House of Representatives.
Senate Democrats may now tweak that legislation to reflect Manchin’s proposed changes. Even if the compromise can win the support of Democrats, it would need the backing of 10 Republicans to have a chance of overcoming a certain GOP filibuster.
Manchin has repeatedly said he will not support eliminating the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass most measures.
But some Democrats hope he and other moderates may agree to carve out an exception for voting rights, similar to the exception that Republicans made for Supreme Court justices who can now be confirmed by a simple majority vote.
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