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Stacey Abrams backs Manchin’s compromise on voting legislation

Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams threw her support behind Sen. Joe Manchin’s voting legislation compromise including the component requiring a form of voter identification handing the West Virginia Democrat a key endorsement.

Manchin released a list of voting and campaign finance legislative changes he would back on Wednesday, opening the door to legislative compromise on the Democrats’ top voting bill, the For the People Act, ahead of a crucial vote next week.

The senator has said he opposes the act, arguing it’s too partisan and needs bipartisan support, and said he would not vote to amend the filibuster to pass that or the narrower John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the face of near-unanimous Republican opposition.

Asked in an interview Thursday morning whether she could support Manchin’s proposal, Abrams told CNN “absolutely.”

“’What Sen. Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks that we need to ensure that democracy is accessible no matter your geography,” she said. “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 legislation seeking to restrict the access to vote.”

Abrams narrowly lost a bid for governor in Georgia in 2018 and has emerged as the left’s most prominent voting rights advocate. Her endorsement lends Manchin’s proposed compromise some key support.

His proposal includes changes to both of the current bills. He supports making Election Day a public holiday, offering 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections and automatic voter registration through state departments of motor vehicles. He also proposed requiring voter identification but allowing alternatives like utility bills to suffice as proof of identity.

Pressed on the voter ID provision, Abrams said that “no one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote.”

She argued that restrictive voter ID bills — like bills that bar voters from using student ID cards but allow gun licenses — are the bills she opposes.

In 2020, 35 states requested some form of voter identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while other states check other identifying information like signatures at the polls.

“I support voter identification,” Abrams concluded. “I reject restrictive voter ID designed to keep people out of the process.”

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