I get it that politics is at least sometimes about compromise and negotiation. My problem has been that the liberal side of the political alleyway seems to be doing most of the giving. And when it comes to voting rights, I’m less inclined to give too much because I believe the warnings that our democracy is under attack by partisan Republicans in state legislatures across the nation. The Trump mob flames this assault on democracy with the continuing “Big Lie” that Democrats stole the November election from Trump.
So, compromise on democracy, Sen. Manchin? I think not. Still, it is a step forward that Manchin finally spelled out what he supports and opposes. Now Democrats can begin to negotiate with fellow Democrats. Moscow Mitch has made it clear that national Republicans will not participate in the Democracy Revival legislation under consideration in Congress. Can I hear an amen for all sides making it clear where they stand?
And, based on the recently clearly stated political reality, this is what comes to my mind as I read about the Manchin proposal:
Do I agree with Manchin on keeping voter id? No. But I like his compromise solution, which Stacey Abrams has endorsed. Let’s expand our definition of voter id, Manchin suggests, to include electricity bills, for example.
I also don’t like his call to let the states continue to “maintain voter lists.” Critics call this voter purges. I think the term voter purges fits because many states don’t just remove dead people or people who have moved, from the voter rolls. They also make mistakes and remove people who are legitimate voters. The 2000 presidential election in Florida is a classic example of this.
The Jeb Bush administration hired a private firm to compile a list of “felons” who did not qualify to vote under Florida law. So far, so good. But the list was corrupted — on purpose — some charge. The firm that put together the list didn’t just put Steve Schneider, a convicted felon, on the list. The private company also targeted Stevie Schneider, Stephen Schneider, and folk who lived near these poor souls. In other words, lots of legitimately registered voters were scrubbed from the voter rolls. A lawsuit after George W. Bush won Florida, and thus the presidency, revealed what happened but provided no remedy for the corrupted Florida win for the Bush brothers. W. won the Sunshine State by 537 votes.
Should Democrats accept unrestricted voter purges? No. Should Democrats consider learning from Republicans? Maybe. For example, GOP state legislatures, under the guise of election integrity, have written new laws that sometimes mandate fines or even jail time when election workers take certain actions. Would a proposed law garner bipartisan support if it said go ahead and “maintain voter rolls” but face fines and/or jail time if you remove the names of legitimate voters? In other words, first, do no harm.
I doubt it. But why not test Manchin and Republicans on this issue?
Of course, Manchin has made it clear that he wants to see Election Day become a national holiday. The West Virginia conservative also wants voters to get 15 days of early voting, among other ideas that the Democratic majority in the Senate has backed.
I will have a much better understanding of Manchin, though, when I learn whether an acceptable version of the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act are approved by Congress and signed by President Biden. I might even put a leaked Zoom audio of Manchin discussing filibuster reform on my digital hit parade.
Granted, I may be placing too much weight on the shoulders of just one Senator. But Manchin, the former quarterback, seems ready to lead. The question remains, “Where are we being led?” Time will tell.
Manchin Proposal Guts John Lewis Voting Rights Act?
We are concentrating on where Sen. Joe Manchin stands on the For the People Act. But experts told Talking Points Memo to pay attention to his plans for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. These experts say Manchin proposes to gut the act. Advocates favor an initial version of the proposed legislation, arguing it will give the U.S. Department of Justice authority to review new voting laws to make sure they don’t discriminate against voters or make it harder for them to vote.