A key Democratic senator says he will not vote for the largest overhaul of US election law in a generation, leaving no path forward for legislation that his party and the White House have portrayed as crucial for protecting access to the ballot. "Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,'' Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote in the Charleston Gazette-Mail
. He wrote that failure to bring together both parties on voting legislation would “risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.” Among dozens of other provisions, it would require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting, the AP
Democrats have pushed the legislation as the antidote to a wave of restrictive state voting laws, many inspired by former President Trump’s claims of fraud in his 2020 loss. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to bring the election bill to a vote the week of June 21. But without Manchin’s support, the bill has no chance of advancing because Republicans are united against it. In appearances on Sunday news shows, Manchin stressed his reasons for opposing the bill, including his view that it is too broad. “I think it’s the wrong piece of legislation to bring our country together and unite our country and I’m not supporting that because I think it would divide us further,” Manchin said. He added that lawmakers should instead focus on revitalizing the landmark Voting Rights Act, which was weakened by a Supreme Court decision in 2013.
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