A massive election law bill coming before the Senate – known as H.R. 1 in the House – is not popular in West Virginia, making it a tough sell on moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Election officials in the state are lobbying Manchin to oppose the bill, of which he is the only Democrat senator who has not signed on to co-sponsor it, The Wall Street Journal reported.
There are 49 Democrat senators signed on, making Manchin a pivotal vote amid the Senate's 50-50 split if the 60-vote threshold on the filibuster is done away with.
Republican West Virginia election official Mac Warner is going to testify Wednesday before the Senate Rules Committee in opposition of the bill, and the Journal reported Manchin's staff has been in touch with election officials in his state beforehand.
"They are totally out of touch, completely out of touch, with what we're doing inside the state," Warner told the Journal of congressional Democrats backing what Republicans rebuke as a massive election power grab.
Republicans have unilaterally opposed the bill, which loosens voter I.D. requirements, expands mail-in voting, and mandates same-day and online voter registration, arguing the those measures lead to voter fraud.
"We've had a process since the beginning of the country where states and local officials had the flexibility and the ability to make their laws work for voters in their state," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters this week.
The proposed federalized election law changes were popular in many states already, particularly blue states, and some helped lift President Joe Biden over incumbent President Donald Trump in key battleground states last November.
"At a time when the right to vote is under attack and special interests and dark money are drowning out the voices of the American people, we need to take bold action," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said last week, the Journal reported.
Manchin could help grease the wheels for a 50-vote and Vice President Kamala Harris tiebreaker passage of the voting rights bill by voting with Democrats to go to the "nuclear option," which tosses the legislative filibuster 60-vote threshold.
President Biden has supported the nuclear option to pass laws in the Senate in the early days during his administration, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has vowed to use his own legislative tactics to slow, block, or even retaliate for the doing away of the filibuster.
Manchin has prided himself of being a moderate senator, often rebuking partisan pushes without reaching across the aisle in Congress.
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