Nick Saban, others call on Manchin to help pass the bill on voting rights

University of Alabama’s head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent West Virginia-affiliated sports figures have called on U.S. Senator Joe Manchin to support comprehensive legislation to protect voting rights.

Saban was joined by NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, another from West Virginia, in a letter Jan. 13 written to the Democratic senator ahead of the Senate debate on freedom of vote: the John R. Lewis Act. The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday, and it appeared to be heading for defeat.

The pre-Senate package would make Election Day a national holiday and require access to early ballots and ballot papers that became overwhelmingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Voting advocates across the country have warned that Republican-led states have enacted laws that make it harder for black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling stations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.

In the letter, the group said the principles that help ensure fair and free elections are “now under conscious and unprecedented challenge.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban sees warm-up ahead of the College Football Playoff Football Championship against Georgia on Monday, January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo / Paul Sancya)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban sees warm-up ahead of the College Football Playoff Football Championship against Georgia on Monday, January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo / Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo / Paul Sancya)

“We are all confident that democracy is best when the vote is open to all on equal terms; the judges are neutral; and by the end of the struggle the end result is respected and accepted,” the letter reads.

SCHUMER SUGGESTS TO SPEAK FILIBUSTER AT LAST MINUTE ATTEMPT TO PERSON MANCHIN, SINEMA

The letter was also signed by former NFL players Oliver Luck and Darryl Talley, who are both graduates of West Virginia University, as well as former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

The group said lawmakers should “guarantee that all Americans have an equal voice in our democracy and that federal elections are conducted with integrity so that the votes of all eligible voters determine the election results.”

The Voting Act was the Democrats’ top priority this Congress, and Parliament quickly approved the legislation, only to see it languish in the Senate, as opposed to the Republicans. With a 50-50 split, Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate – Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie – but they lack the 60 votes needed to overcome the GOP filibuster.

Senate Joe Manchin, D-WVa., Speaks to the media after the Senate Democrats' lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, January 13, 2022. Biden meets privately with the Senate Democrats in the Capitol, a visit aimed at delivering a shock to the party's long-established voting and election legislation.  (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)

Senate Joe Manchin, D-WVa., Speaks to the media after the Senate Democrats’ lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, January 13, 2022. Biden meets privately with the Senate Democrats in the Capitol, a visit aimed at delivering a shock to the party’s long-established voting and election legislation. (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)
(AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)

Attention is intensely focused on Democrats Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who were highlighted with a barrage of criticism under Martin Luther King Jr. Day events for their refusal to change what civil rights leaders call the “Jim Crow filibuster.”

Martin Luther King III, son of the late civil rights leader, compared Sinema and Manchin to the white moderate his father wrote about during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s – a person who declared support for the goals of black suffrage, but not the direct actions or demonstrations that ultimately led to the adoption of the landmark legislation.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Both Manchin and Sinema say they support the package, but they are reluctant to change Senate rules to get it through that chamber because of Republican objections.

Asked about the letter on Tuesday, Manchin told reporters that Saban had added a footnote that was not included in the released letter, saying he supports the filibuster and not getting rid of it.

“We should all support the right voice, all but not break the rules to make new rules,” Manchin said.

Leave a Comment