Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams said she is prepared to throw her support behind a proposal from Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-W.Va.) for a scaled-down version of Democrats' sweeping election reform bill.
"Absolutely," Abrams said Thursday when asked during an appearance on CNN's "New Day" if she supports Manchin's proposal. "What Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible to matter your geography."
Manchin had vowed to vote against S.1 – known as the For The People Act – a version of which has already cleared the Democratic-controlled House. But on Wednesday he appeared to open the door to supporting a version of the measure, publicly releasing a list of demands he gave Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) that outlines what he supports, and what he doesn't, in the current bill.
The proposals meeting Manchin's approval 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.
But the list doesn’t include some of the provisions pushed for by progressives, including public financing of campaigns, and he proposes voter ID requirements, with the possibility of alternative forms of identification such as a utility 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 of his proposal.
Abrams called the provisions the conservative Democrat laid out for voting legislation "strong ones" that will create standards that do not vary state to state, something activists have cited as a top concern on election reform, and improve the access to vote "despite the onslaught of legislation seeking to restrict access to the right to vote."
Sen. Manchin's suggestions "will [a] create level playing field" and "ensure that every American has improved access to the right to vote," @staceyabrams says, adding that she supports voter identification but rejects it when it is "designed to keep people out of the process." pic.twitter.com/abZyiBssOT— New Day (@NewDay) June 17, 2021
Republicans in several states in recent months have passed sweeping election reform laws party leaders say are aimed at keeping elections safe and secure but that Democrats decry as an assault on voting rights. Many of the same Republican leaders have backed unfounded claims by former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Abrams on Wednesday called the suggestion that progressives are opposed to voter ID is "a fallacy of Republican talking points that has been deeply disturbing."
"No one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote," she said. "It's been part of our nation's history since its inception ... but we should not narrow the playing field so much that we push voters out of participation simply because of restrictions that make no sense and do not increase security."