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Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill

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The Hill
The Hill
 2021-06-16
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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has given Democrats hope he could vote for a scaled-down version of S. 1, a sweeping election reform bill that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to bring to the floor next week.

Manchin said Wednesday that he has shared a list of demands with Schumer ahead of a Senate Democratic caucus meeting planned for Wednesday on how to build Democratic unity behind the legislation.

Manchin has previously said that he would vote against the For the People Act, also known as S. 1, because it is overly broad and doesn’t have any Republican support.

Schumer "has everything and everybody else has it,” Manchin said of his demands for changing the election reform bill.

Manchin has previously said he would support legislation more narrowly targeted toward protecting voting rights.

He said he also hopes to meet with Texas Democratic state lawmakers who staged a walkout of a legislative session last month to stop state Republicans from passing an election bill that critics said would curtail voting rights.

Senate Democrats met with the Texas lawmakers on Tuesday, but Manchin missed the meeting.

Democrats are working feverishly with Manchin behind the scenes to get his vote for the election reform bill.

“I’ve been sharing everything that I support and the things I can support and vote with and things I think’s in the bill that doesn’t need to be in the bill, that doesn’t really interact with what we’re doing in West Virginia, so I’ve shared all that,” Manchin said.

Asked if he would vote on a motion to begin debate on the election reform bill, Manchin said, “We’ll have to see what changes are made.”

Manchin on Wednesday afternoon released a list of the reforms he can support.

They include making Election Day a public holiday; mandating at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections; banning partisan gerrymandering and use of computer models to draw districts; and automatic voter registration through departments of motor vehicles, with an option to opt out.

One demand that is likely to run into opposition from progressives is Manchin’s call for a voter ID requirement that would allow someone to use alternatives such as utility bills to prove their identity.

Manchin also expressed support for requiring outside advocacy groups that spend on federal elections to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle.

Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) is one of the Democrats that has been working on trying to hash out a deal on election reform that can win the votes of all 50 members of the Democratic caucus.

The bill would still need 60 votes to overcome a GOP filibuster, which it won’t get.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said not a single Republican will vote for the election reform measure.

Updated at 2:08 p.m.

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