Rolltide football coach and friend of Manchin pens letter to senator urging him to support voting rights
Nick Saban, football coach for the University of Alabama, has joined a group of sports figures from West Virginia who are urging Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support the Freedom to Vote Act.Freedom to Vote Act.
The proposed act aims to expand voter registration and access to voting locations while prohibiting the removal of citizens from voter rolls. The act also proposes that Election Day be deemed a federal holiday.
Saban, a Fairmont, West Virginia native and longtime friend of the centrist lawmaker, signed the letter along wit former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, former NFL All-Pro star Darryl Talley and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
According to the group, lawmakers must "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."
"We strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections," the letter said, per ESPN. "The Freedom to Vote Act, which you sponsored with Committee Chair Senator [Amy] Klobuchar and other colleagues, effectively addressed these goals. Now we also support your leadership in shaping legislation to secure our democracy by protecting election integrity, principled Presidential transitions and our national security during transitions."
"We come from some of our nation's most popular sports leagues, conferences and teams," it continued. "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."
The letter also stressed the importance of election systems being "nonpartisan, professional and transparent."
"These principles are now under intentional and unprecedented challenge," the letter said. "In the last year, some 20 states have enacted dozens of laws that restrict voting access and allow local officials or state legislatures to interfere inappropriately with Federal election outcomes. Motivated by the unanticipated outcomes of recent close elections conducted with integrity, these state laws seek to secure partisan advantage by eliminating reliable practices with proven safeguards and substituting practices ripe for manipulation.
"To complement your efforts to have the Senate enact balances and widely supported legislation, we will encourage others in sports, business and other endeavors to join with us in endorsing the concepts set forth in this letter," it added.
The letter was made public on Monday, January 17.