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Sen. Joe Manchin

Photo by MDGovpics (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-WV) opposition to Democrats' push to expand voting rights has been a deep point of contention that has left the lawmaker on the outs with his political party. However, Democratic lawmakers may want to take a hard look at his latest counteroffer, according to election law scholar Richard Hasen.

In a piece published by Slate, Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, laid out the details of Manchin's counteroffer to the "For the People" bill, HR-1. The lawmaker's proposal addresses a number of the original bill's highest priorities where voting rights and campaign finance are concerned.

According to Hasen, Manchin's proposal includes "a requirement of 15 days of early voting in federal elections, automatic voter registration, limits on partisan gerrymandering, and improved campaign finance disclosure."

The lawmaker is also in agreement on "extending campaign finance provisions to communications on the internet and to currently non-disclosing 'dark money' groups, prohibiting false information about when, where, and how people vote, and an updated pre-clearance process."

While it is clear that the West Virginia Senator's proposal isn't exactly what Democratic lawmakers are advocating, Hasen suggests Democrats should at least consider the offer. He acknowledged that while many of the line items Democrats initially proposed are not included, most of those items are far less pressing.

Hasen explained why:

"Democrats should jump at the opportunity to pass such a bill, but it is also fair to acknowledge it is far from perfect, Many of the darlings in the For the People Act are not on Manchin's list, such as felon re-enfranchisement, public financing of congressional elections, restructuring the often-deadlocked Federal Election Commission, and limiting state voter purges. Not only would the Manchin proposal continue to allow states to engage in voter purges, it also will require some form of voter identification for voting in federal elections, though in a more relaxed form than some of the strict rules some states have enacted."

Hasen also noted that voter identification could actually prove to be beneficial if implemented in a fair manner. Moving forward with Manchin's proposal could also open the door for bipartisan discussions instead of the bill just dying in the Senate.

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