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Appalachian voter suppression is no secret. Due to things like polling access, strict voter ID laws and purging of voter registration files, in West Virginia alone approximately 2% of formerly eligible voters are unable to cast a ballot. And that needs to change.

So let’s break this down a little bit.

What do you need in West Virginia in order to cast a vote?

First, you’ll need to register. You can do this online, but you will need your Social Security number, and a driver’s license or state identification number. Be sure to do this early as West Virginia does not currently allow same-day voter registration. It’s one of 32 states that currently does not do same-day registration. West Virginia does, however, allow early voting during the week leading up to Election Day.

To vote on Election Day you will need some form of acceptable identification. There are 19 acceptable forms of identification listed on the Secretary of State’s website. If you are choosing to vote absentee in the state, you will need to request a ballot no later than six days prior to the election and have it returned to your county clerk by election day. If it is your first time voting absentee, your ballot will need to contain one of six different forms of proof of name and location in order for your vote to be counted.

That’s a lot of steps in order to participate in the right to vote. So, is there anything that can be done about this issue?

Fortunately, yes. There’s a bill in Congress that will help reduce these barriers. It’s called the Freedom to Vote Act and it was proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in response to the For The People Act.

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This bill is designed to do several things that will help make elections fairer and easier to access. First, this bill will make election day a federal holiday. This means that employees will not have to take time off work to vote. This bill also re-enfranchises non-violent felons. This would expand voter access to more than 17,000 West Virginians.

These two things alone make huge advances in helping to expand voting and voter access. But, there is still more than can be done, and more that this bill does.

The Freedom To Vote Act also makes huge leaps to tackle partisan gerrymandering. That is, it gives voters the option to choose their representatives as opposed to allowing representatives to draw districts that will reelect them over and over again. In addition to tacking gerrymandering, this bill also introduces automatic and same-day voter registration. These two provisions will expand voting access and make it easier to register to vote.

This is a popular piece of legislation. So, why hasn’t it passed? If you guessed the filibuster, you’re right. Unfortunately, every attempt to vote on debate for this bill has failed. As the U.S. Senate currently stands, there is not enough Democratic Party support to pass this legislation on their own. This means any Democrat-proposed legislation needs at least 10 Republican senators to sign on. The Freedom to Vote Act does not have that. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stated that he would continue to filibuster this bill simply because the Democrats introduced it.

That’s not to say that this is a one-sided issue. Both parties are equally guilty of doing this. The Senate is a broken system. As America continues to become more polarized, the divide in the Senate will continue to grow. Without fixing this issue, and the dark money issues that fuel it, the Senate will never work for the younger generations.

By passing the Freedom to Vote Act, our generation will be able to take major steps to ensure a legislative future that will continue to make the changes our generation wants to see. So, please call your senators and demand they take the action West Virginians deserve and pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

Elizabeth Steelman lives in Morgantown.

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