Nick Saban asks Joe Manchin to support the suffrage bill
Alabama coach Nick Saban and NBA legend Jerry West are among five West Virginia sports figures pushing Sen. Joe Manchin (D) to support the free vote law.
Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) declined to support creating a filibuster exception for the voting rights bill. A bill can be stalled in the Senate if it does not get 60 votes; if the Voting Rights Bill were exempted from the filibuster and Manchin and Sinema voted in favour, the bill would pass 50-50 in the Senate under a deciding vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.
The letter, also signed by former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former Buffalo Bills linebacker Darryl Talley, urges “Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility to pass laws that establish national standards for the conduct of federal elections and for decisions that determine election results.
An excerpt from the letter is below. You can see it in full here.
Elections Open to All Americans: Our democracy is at its best when all Americans are encouraged to participate. We support measures to provide voters with a range of opportunities to obtain and vote legally, including robust in-person, early and mail-in voting options. We support the use of reliable and evidence-based security measures, equipment and electoral record keeping, and clearly support the integrity of electoral processes.
Impartial Conduct and Scorekeeping. The administration of elections and the certification of votes must be non-partisan, professional and transparent. State legislators and other officials may not apply or modify rules, standards, or procedures, prospectively or retroactively, in any way that could invalidate the results of federal elections by excluding voters or nullifying voters’ choices.
The voting rights bill would allow mail-in voting without an excuse, expand the voter registration process and make Election Day a federal holiday, among other provisions. Republicans have been mostly united in their opposition to the bill and a filibuster exception for it.
There is a note at the bottom of the letter which says that Saban “does not favor removing the filibuster in the Senate”. This footnote, however, does not clarify whether Saban is specifically referring to an exception for the Voting Rights Bill or to the concept of filibuster in general.
West and Saban supported Manchin’s re-election bid
The letter is perhaps the most outspoken that modern college football‘s most successful coach has ever been on politics, though Saban and West are longtime supporters of Manchin, a Democratic senator in a state that the former President Donald Trump won by nearly 40 points in 2020. Saban was born in West Virginia and West stayed in his home state to play basketball in West Virginia before being chosen with the pick No. 2 in the 1960 NBA draft.
Saban, VA-WV coach Bob Huggins endorsed Manchin in an announcement a month before his re-election in November 2018. Saban, who said he grew up with Manchin in the ad, spoke enthusiastically of the senator in advertising. Manchin, 74, has served in the Senate since 2010 and is one of the most conservative Democrats in the legislature.