Shona Misel | CNN
University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and other prominent sports figures associated with West Virginia wrote a letter to Senator Joe Manchin urging the West Virginia Democrat to help his party pass voting rights legislation.
NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, former NFL player and former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, and former NFL player and former West Virginia football player Darryl Talley joined West Virginia native Saban in expressing their support for what they called “urgent necessary.” legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of the results of all federal elections.” The letter was also signed by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who has no known ties to West Virginia.
Democracy, they wrote, “is best when voting is open to all on equal terms; judges are neutral; and at the end of the game, the final score is respected and accepted.”
The letter, which was dated Jan. 13 and released Tuesday, was released Tuesday as the Senate began debating a House-backed voting bill that combines key elements of the Voting Freedom Act and the John Lewis Extended Voting Rights Act.
The signatories expressed support for in-person, early and absentee voting and called for impartial election administration and validation of voting results.
“Motivated by the unforeseen results of recent close elections held in good faith, these state laws aim to secure partisan advantage by eliminating trusted practices with proven guarantees and replacing practices ripe for manipulation,” the letter said, citing a flurry of restrictive voting laws enacted in 2021. d. Republican-led state legislatures.
As it stands, the Democrats don’t have the votes to pass the voting rights bill, and because of intraparty opposition from Manchin and Senator Kirsten Sinema of Arizona, they also don’t have enough votes to get rid of the filibuster that sets 60 votes. the threshold for passing most laws.
Manchin reaffirmed his commitment to defending filibusters in a press release last week, saying “allowing one party to exercise full control of the Senate with a simple majority will only add fuel to the fire of the political whips and dysfunctions that are tearing this nation apart.” apart — especially when one party controls both Congress and the White House.”
Saban later clarified in a letter he signed that he did not support eliminating the filibuster. “Coach Saban does not support getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate. He believes this will destroy the checks and balances we should have in our democracy. Other signatories to this letter take no position on this aspect of Senate policy,” a source familiar with CNN said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday acknowledged the hurdles Democrats face in passing legislation, but added that “when this House is faced with such an important issue, so vital to our country, so vital to our ideals, so vital for the future of our democracy, you don’t take it off the table and say, “Nothing.”