According to Mr. Manchin’s version, states would be allowed to require photo ID, but would have to define the ID broadly – including student IDs, hunting licenses, gun licenses to hide guns, and any form of government paper that includes the voter’s name, such as an electricity bill.
If voters are unable to provide such ID, they can cast a preliminary ballot, subject to verification of the signature on their voter ID. Even if the signature cannot be verified, the voter has 10 days to return to a voting administrator with valid ID.
Some black lawmakers – who have sought advice from Democratic leaders on the voting law – have examined the Manchin proposal and generally blessed it. Representative Joe Neguse, Democrat of Colorado, said Wednesday that it was important to find a compromise on specific provisions like the voter ID section, but that ultimately none of this would happen without changes to the Senate law text.
“For me, the bigger debate that is probably more critical is filibuster reform,” he said.
Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, said Wednesday that the next step would be to find a compromise that Mr. Manchin will accept and then seek Republican support. Ms. Klobuchar promised to take her committee on trips next week when the Senate begins a two-week break to increase political pressure.
And many voting and civil rights groups steadfastly advocating the law in its entirety are signaling flexibility in voter ID cards and reiterating their prior support for such action within the right limits.
“The simple voter ID was part of the vote from the start, and both Democrats and Republicans agree that people should provide proof of who they are before they vote,” wrote Ms. Abrams, the former Democratic candidate for governorship in Georgia, in her book “Our Time Is Now” last year. “What has changed over the past few years is the type of identification required and the difficulty or expense of obtaining the required documents.” She made similar comments on CNN last week.
The struggle for the right to vote
After former President Donald J. Trump made false claims again in recent months that the 2020 elections were stolen from him, Republican lawmakers in many states have moved forward to pass laws making voting harder and changing the way elections are conducted, what Democrats and Democrats even frustrated some election officials in their own party.
- A central theme: The rules and procedures of elections have become central to American politics. According to the research institute Brennan Center for Justice, the legislature had passed 22 new laws in 14 states by May 14 to make the voting process more difficult.
- The basic measures: Restrictions vary by state, but may include restricting the use of ballot boxes, adding identification requirements for voters requesting postal votes, and removing local laws that allow automatic registration for postal votes.
- Other extreme measures: Some measures go beyond changing voting behavior, including adjusting electoral college and judicial voting rules, cracking down on citizen-led electoral initiatives, and banning private donations that provide resources to conduct elections.
- Recoil: These Republican efforts have resulted in Democrats in Congress finding a way to pass federal voting laws. A major suffrage bill was passed in the House of Representatives in March, but it has faced difficult obstacles in the Senate, including from Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia. Republicans have remained closed to the proposal, and even if the bill went into effect, it would most likely face major legal challenges.
- Florida: Measures here include restricting the use of mailboxes, introducing additional identification requirements for postal ballots, requiring voters to request a postal vote at every election, restricting who can pick up and dropping ballots, and further empowering partisan observers during the vote counting process.
- Texas: The Texas Democrats successfully blocked the state’s extensive voting law known as SB 7 in a nightly strike and launched a large nationwide registration program that focuses on racially diverse communities. But the state’s Republicans have promised to return in a special session and pass a similar voting bill. SB 7 includes new postal voting restrictions; granted the party election observers a broad new autonomy and authority; escalated penalties for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting.
- Other states: Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that would restrict the distribution of postal ballots. The bill to remove voters from the state’s standing pre-election list if they do not cast a vote at least every two years may be just the first in a series of voting restrictions enacted there. Georgia Republicans passed sweeping new electoral laws in March that restrict ballot boxes and make the distribution of water within certain boundaries of a polling station a misdemeanor. And Iowa has imposed new restrictions, including shortening the deadline for early voting and voting in person on election day.
Election officials have reiterated their arguments, saying that any new identification requirements set out in a federal electoral law should be accompanied by special funding sources to help states reach potentially affected voters.