Stacey Abrams backs Senate Democrats’ voting rights compromise
Stacey Abrams gave her blessing on Tuesday to a compromise version of Democrats’ wide-ranging voting rights bill, putting the weight of one of the country’s most influential voting rights activists behind the legislation.
In a statement shared first with The Hill, Abrams said the bill, the Freedom to Vote Act, “takes the necessary steps to protect our democracy” and “sets national standards for voting access for every eligible American regardless of zip code,” adding that the legislation has her “strong support.”
“I am confident the bill will advance the shared objectives Fair Fight Action, civil rights organizations, allies and activists across the country have worked so hard to achieve,” she said, referencing the voting rights organization Abrams established after her unsuccessful 2018 Democratic campaign for Georgia governor.
“The provisions of this legislation are overwhelmingly supported by the American people across party lines, and Senators must respond to the demands of their constituents by supporting it,” she continued.
The legislation comes as Democrats prepare for a busy fall to-do list that, in addition to voting rights, includes funding the government, raising the debt ceiling and approving a must-pass defense spending bill. It also comes as Republican state lawmakers march forward with a host of new election laws that Democrats say amount to blatant voter suppression.
Democrats’ original voting rights bill, the For the People Act, passed the House in May. But it ran into stiff opposition in the Senate: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voiced his opposition to the legislation, and it was blocked by a Republican filibuster.
The newest version of the bill, however, was crafted by a group of senators including Manchin, virtually ensuring that it will have the support of all 50 Senate Democrats. Manchin has already been running the compromise bill by Republicans in an effort to wrangle enough GOP votes to break another filibuster.
The compromise legislation trims down parts of the For the People Act to align with the provisions Manchin previously said he would support. Still, it includes sweeping changes to the nation’s elections, including making Election Day a federal holiday, creating mandatory early-voting requirements and implementing automatic voter registration.
The bill would also set a national standard for voter ID that would allow voters to use a variety of identification cards and documents to meet the requirement. While Abrams has spoken out aggressively against certain strict identification requirements, she’s previously backed basic voter ID requirements that allow people to provide different types of documentation.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the compromise bill on Tuesday along with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Manchin and Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).
Abrams congratulated Manchin and the rest of the working group on Tuesday, calling on lawmakers to move quickly to approve the bill as well as another piece of voting rights legislation, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“I commend Senator Manchin and the other working group members Senators Kaine, King, Klobuchar, Merkley, Padilla, Tester and Warnock along with Leader Schumer and Senator Ossoff for their determination to move these critical protections forward, and I urge the bill’s swift passage along with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Abrams said.