March 25, 2021

Manchin Pledges Bipartisan Efforts On Voting Rights Legislation

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), released the following statement on his commitment to garnering bipartisan support for voting rights legislation that encompasses voting access expansion, election security and campaign finance reforms.

“I am writing now to call your attention to provisions in S. 1, the For the People Act, that could, I believe, garner enough support in the U.S. Senate to become law. The 2020 election, like the 2018 midterms, featured historic levels of voter turnout — the highest in over a century, even in the face of a deadly pandemic. The results were a record 158.4 million ballots cast in 2020, which was about 7 percentage points higher than in 2016.

“Even though our democratic institutions have survived foreign interference and a violent attempt to enter the United States Capitol during the counting of Electoral College votes, America’s declining trust in the government and each other makes it harder to solve key problems. That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship to strengthen our democracy by protecting voting rights, implementing commonsense election security reforms, and making our campaign finance system more transparent.

“A healthy democracy depends on a voting system that is accessible, free, fair, and secure. There are some legitimate concerns about the implementation of the For the People Act, especially in rural areas. As a former Secretary of State, I know, firsthand, the importance of local decision-making around voter accessibility and election security. With that in mind, there are bipartisan proposals embedded in this bill that can strike the right balance and make great strides on each of these issues. Instead of arguing about the election reforms on which we disagree, Congress should be working together to enact those on which we can agree.

“As our lives become more complex and dominated by technology, the notion of restricting voting to a single 8 or 12-hour timeframe is not indicative of how most voters live. Expanding voter access to the polls by requiring at least fifteen days, including two weekend days, of early voting in every state will increase turnout and help individuals, especially those who have traditionally not been able to participate, cast their votes. We can also do more to help those groups that have been historically disenfranchised and underrepresented in our federal elections through bipartisan solutions like those included in the Native American Voting Rights Act that would authorize additional, dedicated resources for Native American and Alaska Native voters. 

“Our country must also improve the security and reliability of our election infrastructure. Foreign adversaries continue to contribute to misinformation during elections and recent hacks into software used throughout the federal government show that such attacks are growing increasingly advanced. There are multiple bipartisan bills included in the For the People Act that would greatly enhance our ability to combat these evolving threats, including the Secure Elections Act and the Prevent Election Hacking Act.

“Of course, we cannot discuss election integrity and public trust without mentioning the disturbing role money plays in our democracy. Since the Citizens United Supreme Court case, unlimited amounts of dark money have allowed anonymous parties to flood the airwaves with negative advertisements. More recently, the lack of transparency in many campaign finance rules provides multiple avenues for foreign and national adversaries to meddle in the American political system. Now, more and more lawmakers spend their time dialing for dollars, instead of legislating for their constituents. This never-ending battle to raise money to spend on reelection campaigns cheapens our elections to nothing more than financial transactions. That is why I have and will continually support changing our campaign finance rules. The DISCLOSE Act, filed by Senator Whitehouse would require leaders of corporations, unions or other organizations to disclose that they are behind political ads. Similarly, the bipartisan Honest Ads Act, for example, would simply require digital ads to meet the same disclosure requirements as print or broadcast ads.

“As the Senate prepares to take up the For the People Act, we must work toward a bipartisan solution that protects everyone’s right to vote, secures our elections from foreign interference, and increases transparency in our campaign finance laws. Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government. We can and we must reform our federal elections together – not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans to restore the faith and trust in our democracy.”