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David Crawley (copy)

David Crawley

Nationwide, since the 2020 election, legislators who did not like the results have been on the attack to try and prevent unfavorable results from happening again.

Around 400 bills have been introduced in state legislatures making it harder for working people to vote in 49 states across the country. This blatant assault on our democracy and on our freedom to vote should shock and scare all of us, and is wildly un-American.

During the pandemic, no excuse absentee ballots became the norm for many people, myself included. It allowed us more time to have a ballot, and time to look up and research candidates on minor races. It allowed our disabled veterans to stay in the comfort of their home to vote, and protected our seniors from exposure to illness while voting.

I confess that even as someone who likes to consider himself well-versed in politics, I had no idea who any of the candidates for Cabell County magistrate were, and the extra time to study my ballot was very beneficial for my engagement and investment in that election.

However, mail-in ballots, like so many other things in our country, have become politicized. Democrats tended to favor them over Republicans. Due to most Democrats voting via mail-in ballots in key swing states in 2020, and because these ballots were counted last, it caused President Biden to win in a way that was confusing to the casual observer.

Let’s be clear: Secure, fraud-free voting access is wildly popular across the political spectrum. American voters, regardless of their political affiliation, don’t want it to be made more difficult for working people to vote. But since there is now a political upside to restricting mail-in ballots for one major party, Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner has proposed shortening the amount of time people can request absentee ballots. As of right now, the deadline is six days before the election, and he wants to make it 12 days before.

Given the increasingly slow pace of the mail, this reduced amount of time to request a ballot is going to prevent some people from being able to vote — and those voters will mostly be old, disabled or working people. And that seems to be the overall goal for these restrictions nationwide.

This is one of the many reasons why we need Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to pass the Freedom To Vote Act to protect our right to vote in whichever way we choose. Manchin has championed this bill, and we must pass it by any means necessary. Capito needs to support her constituents and join Manchin in protecting our freedom.

David Crawley is the director of UnPAC West Virginia.

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