Manchin’s break with Democrats over voting-rights bill
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Manchin’s break with Democrats over voting-rights bill

Senator Joe Manchin speaks to reporters at the US Capitol last month. (Graeme Sloan/Reuters)

The main effort to prevent or reverse a wave of voting restrictions passed by Republican state legislators, many echoing the stolen-election myth, has just hit a major snag.

Yesterday, Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, wrote in his home state’s Charleston Gazette-Mail that he would vote against the For the People Act, a sweeping plan to combat voter restrictions that is backed by the Senate’s 49 other Democrats — and no Republicans. Manchin, a conservative Democrat who represents a state former President Donald Trump carried handily in 2016 and 2020, criticized the bill — which would reduce barriers to voter registration and end congressional gerrymandering, among other changes — as “partisan.” He added that he would not support Democratic efforts to weaken or end the filibuster, a pledge that could derail much of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Manchin said he would instead support passage of the narrower John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but as noted by The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, that bill is well short of the 60 votes required under the filibuster rules currently in place — and which Manchin has all but ensured will not be changed.

This weekend was a reminder that the disinformation-driven assault on the US electoral system led by Trump has not abated. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp was booed at a Republican Party convention, reflecting lingering anger over his decision to certify Biden’s win in the state last year. Kemp nevertheless signed a bill in March restricting voting rights in Georgia, one of 14 states so far to pass Republican-driven bills limiting ballot access since the 2020 election. And Trump himself pressed on with his offline campaign to advance the stolen-election myth, using a speech in North Carolina to repeat numerous baseless fraud claims. (Facebook announced on Friday that Trump will remain locked out of his account on that platform and Instagram for at least two years.)

Reactions among promoters of the stolen-election myth to Manchin’s move were predictably triumphalist; former Trump aide George Papadopoulos said in a tweet shared at least 3,100 times that the senator “likely saved our Republic as we knew it.” And Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA said in a post with over 3,100 shares, “Manchin continues to be the only thing standing in the way of the Democrat effort to turn our country into a banana republic.” — First Draft staff

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