University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and NBA legend Jerry West have both signed an open letter to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin urging the moderate Democrat from West Virginia to support a federal overhaul of elections in America to “secure our democracy.”
In the new letter, Saban, West, and three more prominent sports figures — former West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck, former Buffalo Bills star Darryl Talley, and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue — called on Congress to “use its Constitutional responsibility to approve laws that set national safeguards for Federal elections and for choices that determine the outcomes of elections.”
They are asking Senator Manchin to support the Freedom to Vote Act, a bill pushed by Dems that would set federal standards for United States elections. In addition to expanding mail-in voting and early voting, the bill would undermine voter ID laws, limit the ability of states to delete dead or inactive voters from voter rolls, make Election Day a national holiday, and more.
Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by GOP members, who are uniformly against a federal overhaul of elections. And Senator Manchin, along with Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and at least three other Dem are against carving out a filibuster exception or removing the filibuster altogether to push the bill, preventing the 50-50 Dem majority from acting on election reforms.
But Saban and the other sports icons insist that Senator Manchin change his position, showing their support for the Dem election takeover bill:
The letter says that “these principles are now under unprecedented and intentional challenge” from state laws supported by the GOP that have strengthened voter ID laws and tightened the rules regarding mail-in ballots and absentee voting after the pandemic. Saban and the others accuse the GOP of trying to “secure partisan advantage by stopping reliable practices with good safeguards and substituting practices that allow manipulation.”
It’s a rare display of partisanship from the Alabama coach.
Although Saban, a native of West Virginia, is a longtime supporter and friend of Manchin, he insisted to journalists in 2020 that he had no desire to get involved in politics.
“I have never endorsed a candidate, nor will I ever get involved in politics in any way. I don’t think that’s my place,” he said.