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Nick Saban, Jerry West, Oliver Luck Sign Letter to Joe Manchin Backing Voting Rights

Adam WellsJanuary 18, 2022

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Several current and former sports figures, including Alabama head coach Nick Saban, have signed a letter in support of the “Freedom to Vote Act” legislation currently being debated by the United States Senate. 

In a press release issued Monday, Saban, Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West, former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue all signed the letter that was sent to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin: 

"We come from some of our Nation's most popular sports leagues, conferences and teams. Some of us have roots and shaped our lives in West Virginia, others followed very different paths and some of us have been rivals in sports or business. But we are all certain that democracy is best when voting is open to everyone on a level playing field; the referees are neutral; and at the end of the game the final score is respected and accepted.
"So we are united now in urging Congress to exercise its Constitutional responsibility to enact laws that set national standards for the conduct of Federal elections and for decisions that determine election outcomes. We commend you for ensuring that such legislation rests on critical features of our Constitution. These guarantee that all Americans have an equal voice in our democracy and that Federal elections are conducted with integrity so that the votes of all eligible voters determine the election outcomes."

Everyone who signed the letter, with the exception of Tagliabue, has ties to West Virginia. Saban was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, and graduated from high school in the state. 

Luck graduated from West Virginia University and played quarterback for the Mountaineers from 1978-81. West was born in the state and played college basketball at West Virginia from 1957-60. 

Per Brian Naylor of NPR, the Freedom to Vote Act is set to be debated in Congress on Tuesday. 

The Freedom to Vote Act, according to Naylor, is a "sweeping measure" that would "affect everything from the way congressional districts are drawn to how campaigns are financed" if it gets passed. 

Among the notable changes in the bill are making Election Day a national holiday, allowing early voting in states for at least two weeks before election day and allowing states to "offer same-day voting registration and online registration and also make it easier to register at places like departments of motor vehicles."

Per Caitlyn Kim of NPR, Manchin and Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema have said they won't support concluding the filibuster required to end debate and move to vote on the legislation. 

The Freedom to Vote Act has already passed through the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-203. It must pass through the senate before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.    

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