Stacey Abrams on Thursday praised West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposed changes to voting rights legislation, a notable statement of support from someone who is widely seen as a leader among progressives on the issue.
“What Sen. Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible no matter your geography,” Abrams, a Democrat and strong advocate for voting rights, said on CNN’s “New Day.” “And those provisions that he is setting forth are strong ones that will create a level playing field, will create standards that do not vary from state to state, and I think will ensure that every American has improved access to the right to vote despite the onslaught of state legislations seeking to restrict access to the right to vote.”
Manchin, a key Democratic vote in a 50-50 Senate and who opposed the more sweeping For the People Act in its current form, on Wednesday released a proposal that would make Election Day a holiday, ban gerrymandering, mandates at least 15 consecutive days of early voting and institutes a voter ID requirement that includes a utility bill as an alternative.
Asked if she could accept Manchin’s compromise even if a voter ID mandate is part of it, the Georgia Democrat wouldn’t explicitly endorse Manchin’s proposal but she didn’t reject it, either.
“What has been problematic is the type of restrictive ID that we’ve seen pop up,” she said. “Our point is simply that the restrictions on the forms of ID should meet the needs of the people. And what he is proposing makes sense because it says what we’ve had in this country for so many decades which is that people can prove their identity in various ways 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.”
She added, “This is a first and important step to preserving our democracy.”