Voter reform group looks to Sen. Joe Manchin leadership to pass landmark bill

West Virginia

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — The debate has lingered since the 2020 election: is voting accessible and secure? Some national and local activists are working to protect our right to vote.

Confusion over casting ballots, a basic Constitutional right, isn’t all that new. Remember the hanging chads in the 2000 presidential election that eventually was settled in the U.S. Supreme Court? A national group, RepresentUs, wants every U.S. citizen to be able to vote, knowing their ballot will be counted with integrity.

“The Freedom to Vote Act creates a nationwide, minimum floor of access requirements and transparency requirements so that every American, regardless of what state they live in, can be confident in their election,” said Damon Effingham with RepresentUs.

Erin Lehman was on the campus of Shepherd University as voters across the country cast ballots in this off-year election day. As West Virginia’s champion for RepresentUs, she wants the Mountain State to avoid the election confusion experienced in states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia.

“Why wouldn’t we want a solution that would bring a sense of uniformity to all of the states so that nobody feels like they’re being left out of our electoral process?” Lehman asked.

As a constituent of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, she is looking to his leadership in Washington on this issue.

“West Virginians have a lot of opportunity to have their ballots cast with our two weeks of early voting that we have,” said Lehman. “This would make that standard across the entire country.”

The mission for RepresentUs is simply: no voter suppression, no partisan sabotage, no gerrymandering, no dark money.

The overall goal, according to Effingham, is “to ensure that every American’s vote counts equally and that every American has the same amount of access to have their vote count.”

Early voting, mail-in voting, protection for voters with disabilities are all part of the group’s call for reform. Supporters of these reforms are counting on Senator Manchin to get this bill signed into law. RepresentUs wants their reforms to include no long lines at the polls, standards to protect ballots and voter records and same-day and online voter registration.

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