CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — On Tuesday, West Virginia education and labor leaders, as well as lawmakers, gathered to discuss and promote For the People Act, which is waiting for action by the U.S. senate.
The federal piece of legislation passed the house by a 220-210 vote earlier this year.
It aims to give all Americans greater access to the ballot, and they called on West Virginia Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin to vote for it.
Some of the key policy changes For the People will do is establish independent redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering, ensure early voting and absentee voting, and require political groups to disclose their largest donors.
All this as states like Georgia, Arizona, and Texas move to pass legislation that some say suppresses voting rights.
“We heard after the 2020 election there were a lot of cries about voter fraud, that voter fraud is rampant and that’s true; voter fraud is rampant — but not like Stephanie Abrahams says where someone goes into the voting poll with a mustache and tries to cast another vote, this all being done by state legislatures across the nation,” said democratic delegate Jim Barach.
Former West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant was also there to voice her support.
“I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions and the first one is that ‘Oh it’s going to take over, it’s a federal takeover,’ that’s the farthest from the truth because we have had federal legislation like this that have really empowered states and empowered the voter,” said Tennant.
Garrett Ballengee over at the West Virginia Cardinal Institute, a conservative think tank, disagrees.
“The framework that we should approach elections with is it should be easy to vote and hard to cheat and it’s very unclear to me how this bill actually promotes that,” he said.
Ballengee says there is a history of privacy for citizens and transparency for government, and the For the People Act flips that on its head.
The key person now which both sides want to appeal to is Senator Joe Manchin, who is a former West Virginia Secretary of State himself.
“He has a strong record, a legacy of being pro-voter and this will help to preserve his legacy by pushing this and co-sponsoring this bill,” said Tennant.