A former two-term governor of West Virginia and a former secretary of state, the chief elections officer in West Virginia, Manchin said he sees the need for some changes. However, he also believes the authority for managing elections needs to remain at the state and local level.
Manchin said any election reform effort needs to focus on three key areas.
“The main thing is, being a former governor and a former secretary of state, we should have accessibility at the polling place, you should have fairness in the voting process, and it should be secured,” Manchin said. “Those three things have to be done.”
One part of For the People Manchin likes is the restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013 in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Manchin and others have tried to restore the Voting Rights Act through the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, named for the late civil rights leader and Georgia congressman John Lewis. The most recent version of the bill passed the House in 2019, but the Senate version of the bill died in committee in 2020.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore the original Voting Rights Act to ensure any changes to state election laws do not violate the civil rights of minorities and people of color. Many states have started making changes to voting laws in the wake of the November 2020 elections, believing without evidence that the election was stolen from former president Donald Trump. Election rights advocated believe those changes could make it more difficult for people to register and vote.
“We already have the John L. Lewis (Voting Rights Act),” Manchin said. “We should basically expand the John L. Lewis Voting Act to all 50 states, not just to those that we designate, and protect the voters. Those are the main things that we should be doing.”