Warner urges residents to voice their concerns with voting rights bill
ELKINS — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is urging residents to voice concerns they may have about a key voting rights bill.
Warner said he has spoken with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., about his displeasure with H.R. 1 and S. 1, also called the For the People Act.
“It would federalize elections and the federal government would be mandating how we run the elections in West Virginia,” Warner told The Inter-Mountain during a phone interview Friday.
The For the People Act passed the House of Representatives along party lines in March, but the Senate Rules and Administration Committee is expected to vote next Tuesday to allow the bill to advance to the full Senate for a vote.
Manchin said this week he is working with other Democrat senators to make changes to the bill.
“It sounds good to say, ‘We’re going to count all the votes,'” Warner said Friday. “It’s like access. Everybody wants access, and everybody wants us to count all the votes. But the key here is counting the legal votes, not just all the votes.
“If a non-citizen is able to register at the DMV as they’re getting a license, and they get on the voter registration lists and is able to vote, that cancels out a citizen’s vote. It reduces its value,” he said. “Or if a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old is able to vote, again because of registering at the DMV … it has a corresponding security component to it.”
According to The Washington Post, Democratic lawmakers have worked behind-the-scenes to craft the bill to make it more acceptable to Manchin and a handful of other Senate Democrats who have raised issues with the act. The bill also is expected not to make it past a Senate Republican filibuster attempt.
In a statement in March, Manchin said any attempt at federal election reform must be done with the cooperation of both Republicans and Democrats.
Warner disagrees with the popular notion that the bill is a response to the controversial 2020 presidential election.
“They’ve been trying this for a number of years. The House passed this two years ago,” Warner said. “This is not a response to the 2020 election. This is something Democrats have been wanting for years. It’s just that, after the Georgia election in January, and the gain Democrats had, they felt like this is the time to push it hard and really sell it.”
Warner, who testified before the Senate in March about election access and integrity, was asked how he felt his testimony was received by senators.
“It was half and half. The Democrats weren’t receptive and the Republicans were very receptive,” he said. “That’s the problem today, everything is so divided. We have a very divided Congress.”
Warner said all 55 county clerks in West Virginia — both Democrats and Republicans — oppose the For the People Act.
“Just call in to Sen. Manchin’s office, write him letters, or text in and say ‘We support your opposition to S. 1,'” Warner said. “There’s dark money, there’s outside interests, outside influence trying to put pressure on him to vote for it … I believe his constituents need to let him know we support him on this.”