FAIRMONT, W.Va. – On Wednesday, a freedom to vote rally was held in Fairmont.
Organizers gathered on the Marion County Courthouse steps to voice their support for the Freedom to Vote Act that’s up for vote in the Senate.
This bill addresses voter registration and voting access, election integrity and security, redistricting and campaign finance. Specifically, the bill expands voter registration and voting access. It also limits removing voters from voter rolls.
“The basic pillar of democracy is a free and fair election — this bill is going to standardize election policies across the country — is that all Americans, not just West Virginias have free access and fair access to a free and fair election,” Stephanie Tomana, a Marion County resident said.
Organizers gathered people to caravan from West Virginia to Washington D.C. In addition to stopping in Fairmont, they also rallied in Charleston and Morgantown.
Thaddaus Breckenridge, an organizer for the rally and member of West Virginia Working Families Party said it’s important to come out in person to hold legislators’ feet to the fire.
“But whenever we’re here together, and we show unity, and we show a strong code in unison, and we provide a message … we put them (legislators) in, and now, it’s time to exchange something for us, and we’re showing them the people that they’re exchanging it to,” he said. “So, I think it’s best for both parties to see the people that’s coming out here to show that, and then the legislators seeing the support, and then the people actually out there depending on them.”
Also at the rally was West Virginia Delegate Joey Garcia and former Secretary of State of West Virginia Natalie Tennant.
“As a member of the legislators representing Marion County, I’m seeing how important it is to make sure that we have good voting laws, that we keep the voting law that we have that provide for easy access for early voting for automatic voter registration because that’s what ensure that people here in our communities have legislators that reflect their values,” the delegate of the 50th ward said. “So, it all starts with the fundamental right to vote.”
Tennant said people like her, and the rural voters of this country are who this act will help. She also referred to the Freedom to Vote act as Senator Joe Manchin’s signature piece of legislation.
“He listened to county clerks, he listened to secretaries of state, he listened to advocates and rural West Virginians and that show he came up with this and why it is so important.”
She also added that she feels Manchin went above and beyond.
“What he did is he put in place a way to protect our poll workers, our poll workers who are our friends and family … it adds the extra protection that poll workers face because of the 2020 election. The threats and the intimidation that came about because of that,” Tennant said.
The Freedom to vote relay will end on Saturday, Oct. 23 when the organizers arrive in D.C.