Crowd Protests Manchin’s Opposition to Voting Rights Law

Hundreds of outraged demonstrators took part in a protest against Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on Monday (June 14), in response to the senator’s opposition to a major voting rights overhaul bill.

The protest was prompted by Manchin’s decision to not vote for the For the People Act, a voting reform package that would bring about the largest overhaul of U.S. election law in a generation if passed. Democratic leadership have billed the For the People Act as the antidote to restrictive voting laws passed in Republican states since the 2020 election.

Associated Press reported that Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, called for a diverse coalition to put pressure on Manchin to reverse his opinion on voting rights. Rev. Barber proclaimed, “West Virginia needs a real senator.”

The demonstrators then marched a mile to Manchin’s Charleston, West Virginia office. When the crowd’s leaders were told that Manchin was away in Washington, they attached a poster-sized protest letter to the front doors of the building. In response to Manchin’s aides offering comment cards to the crowd, Rev. Barber responded, “We don’t want to talk to the staff.”

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If passed, the For the People Act would create a standard election framework across the country and allow the federal government to enforce civil rights law. In an op-ed published Sunday (June 13), Sen. Manchin argued that the For the People Act was a partisan effort by Democrats that would stoke partisan divides. “Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” Manchin wrote.

Since the 2020 election, Manchin, a moderate Democrat, has come under fire for opposing several key agenda items put forth by Democratic leadership. In addition to the For the People Act, he has also opposed President Biden’s infrastructure bill and efforts to eliminate the filibuster.

Chuck Overstreet, a Charleston resident who joined the march, told Associated Press, “With our senator pretty much controlling this thing, we want to be here to say we’re not on the same page.”

According to the Associated Press, people from neighboring states including Kentucky and Maryland traveled by car and bus to join the protest.

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