Senators Manchin, Capito take different positions on proposed voting regulations

West Virginia

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. (WDVM) — A voting rights bill has been tied up on Capitol Hill for months. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is now on board with a compromise. How is that playing back home?

It’s a showdown over voting rights. The compromise bill would require 15 days of early voting in every state, same-day registration at all polling sites by 2024 and formalize the process for mail-in voting. Manchin’s support unifies the Senate Democratic Caucus. What was the reaction from county officials?

“So the problem we’re going to have is if you do a same day registration, then everybody then will have to vote provisional,” said Kimberly Nickles, clerk for the Morgan County Commission.

It’s a view held by West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Nickles’ fellow clerks in virtually every other West Virginia county. Their concern: a trusted system to verify voters..

“Where they permitted all the voters to vote by mail without an excuse,” said Nickles. “It shouldn’t be done that way because I think that brings in a lot of fraud.”

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who was in the eastern panhandle this week, agrees with Warner and the county clerks. It’s a “flawed” bill, she said, a “power grab.”

“So if everybody gets the option to early vote, I don’t think it’s going to make the election fair,” Nickles said.

As Senator Capito puts it, “West Virginia doesn’t need Washington to impose burdensome requirements to fix problems that do not exist.”

It will take 10 Senate Republicans for the bill to pass. Senator Capito will clearly be a “no’ vote on the bill. Her position has drawn support from the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri. As he put it, “there is no right way to do the wrong thing.”

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