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WV Groups Call on Manchin to Support 'For the People Act'

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A national poll finds supporters of the "For the People Act" in Congress believe it would make voting easier and more secure. (Adobe Stock)
A national poll finds supporters of the "For the People Act" in Congress believe it would make voting easier and more secure. (Adobe Stock)
 By Diane Bernard - Producer, Contact
April 9, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A coalition of pro-democracy groups in West Virginia is urging U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito to support the "For the People Act," a broad measure in Congress to change voting, ethics and campaign-finance laws.

They're also calling on Sen. Manchin to reconsider his decision not to oppose filibusters in the Senate, which could block this voting-rights legislation.

Natalie Tennant served as West Virginia's secretary of state for eight years. She pointed out the act is especially timely, as the West Virginia Legislature considers a bill that would chip away at voting rights, following Georgia's lead.

"West Virginians want to be able to cast our ballots freely, safely and equally," said Tennant. "And if state lawmakers, county clerks and the secretary of state restrict our rights and our voting rights, West Virginians can turn to the For the People Act."

West Virginia's Senate Bill 565 would eliminate the popular Saturday before the election as an early voting day, and require a purge of voter rolls every two years instead of four.

Supporters say it would help ensure elections run smoothly. It easily passed in the state Senate and is now in the House Judiciary Committee.

The West Virginia bill also would set an earlier deadline to apply for an absentee ballot, and end the state's efforts to establish automatic voting registration at Motor Vehicle Administration offices.

Sam Hickman, executive director of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said he thinks the bill would drive down the state's already low voter-participation rate.

"The results of our elections certainly do not point to any fraud or abuse having taken place," said Hickman. "West Virginia's Legislature is now also doing its best to restrict voter access in the name of preventing fraud and abuse and easing the burden on our county clerks, rather than making it easier for voters."

The For the People Act is popular across the country, with 67% of Americans supporting it, according to a national poll. And it has support across party lines, with 56% of Republicans and 77% of Democrats in favor.

Disclosure: NASW West Virginia Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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