BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Nick Saban has joined several sports figures from his home state of West Virginia in urging Sen. Joe Manchin to support new voting rights legislation Democrats are trying to pass.
Saban, who grew up in Monogaugh, West Virginia, recently co-signed a letter from several other athletes from the state. The letter urges Manchin, the state’s Democratic senator, to support the Freedom to Vote Act. Among other things, the bill would make Election Day a federal holiday, make early voting an option nationwide and expand the voter registration process.
The letter comes as Manchin goes against some in his party who want to change filibuster rules by creating an exemption that would keep opponents of the bill from using the filibuster to run out the clock on the vote. Current filibuster rules state that 60 votes are needed to end a filibuster and move to vote on legislation.
Although he co-sponsored the bill in committee back in September, Manchin has said he would like to line up more Republican support for the bill.
“For us to go it alone, no matter what side does it, it just ends up coming back at you pretty hard,” Manchin told Reuters.
In the letter, which was also co-signed by NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, Buffalo Bills standout Darryl Tilley, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Saban and others urged Manchin and Congress to support the bill.
“We come from some of our Nation’s most popular sports leagues, conferences and teams,” the letter stated. “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.”
In a tweet sent Tuesday, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported that initially, Saban had requested the following footnote to be added to the letter:
“Coach Saban is not in favor of getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate. He believes this will destroy the checks and balances we must have in our Democracy. The others signing this letter take no position on this aspect of Senate politics.”
However, this footnote was not included in the final letter.
Saban endorsed Manchin’s Senate campaign in 2018.