This is big news. Joe Manchin puts forth a compromise on voting rights legislation -- and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams says she could support it as an incremental step.
"This is what he says he could support: Declaring election day a public holiday, expanding early voting to at least 15 consecutive days. Requiring them. Banning partisan gerrymandering. Allowing for automatic voter registration at the DMV and requiring voter I.D. to vote," John Berman said.
"Look. Joe Manchin, people are asking him exactly what could you support. He has now laid it out. Some of those proposals would be significant changes and requirements from state to state. Is that a compromise you could support?" he asked Abrams.
"Absolutely. What Senator Manchin is putting forward are some basic building blocks we need to ensure that democracy is accessible no matter your geography. And those provisions that he is setting forth are strong ones that will create a level playing field, create standards that do not vary from state to state and I think will ensure that every American has improved access to the right to vote despite the onslaught of state legislations seeking to restrict access to the right to vote," Abrams said.
"You could accept this compromise, what Joe Manchin laid out, even if voter I.D. was part of it," Berman said.
"That's one of the fallacies of Republican talking points that have been deeply disturbing," she said.
"No one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote. It's been part of our nation's history since the inception of voting. What's been problematic is the type of restrictive I.D. that we've seen pop up. In South Dakota, where Native Americans were told they had to provide I.Ds. with addresses the state refused to provide. We have states where students are not allowed to use their student I.Ds but you can use your gun license. Our point is simply the restrictions on the forms of I.D. should meet the needs of the people.
"What he's proposing makes sense. What we've had in this country for so many decades, which is people can prove their identity in various ways but we should not narrow the playing field so much that we push voters out of participation simply because of restrictions that make no sense and do not increase security. I even write about voter I.D. in my book, 'Our Time Is Now.' I support voter identification. I reject restrictive voter identification designed to keep people out of the process."
"Once again, because it makes some news here. You're a leader in this. Joe Manchin is proposing an alternative. I'm sure you'd like the For The People Act to pass in its entirety, but if this is the alternative that is presented, this is something you would urge Democrats in the Senate to get behind?" Berman asked.
Calling it a "first and important step," Abrams said if Joe Manchin and the U.S. senators who support this legislation are willing to come together on a compromise, "then we will make progress. We will help to continue to ensure access to our democracy for as many Americans as possible and that is always a native good."