Alabama coach Nick Saban was among West Virginia sports personalities who recently wrote a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin in support of the “Free Voting Act” being debated in the United States Senate.
Saban was joined by Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck and College Football Hall of Famer Darryl Talley.
“We are all certain that democracy is better when voting is open to all on an equal footing; referees are neutral; and at the end of the match, the final score is respected and accepted,” wrote Saban and the others. “So we are united now in urging Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility to enact laws that establish national standards for the conduct of federal elections and for the decisions that determine election results.”
“We commend you for ensuring that such legislation is grounded in essential features of our Constitution. These ensure 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 results.”
Manchin is one of the original authors of the bill, which was combined with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, designed to standardize election laws across the country and restore the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. from 1965.
However, Arizona’s Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema do not support efforts by Democratic leaders to change the filibuster rules to ensure the bill passes.
“Last year, about 20 states enacted dozens of laws that restrict access to voting and allow local authorities or state legislatures to inappropriately interfere with federal election results,” says the letter. “Motivated by the unanticipated results of recent tight elections conducted with integrity, these state laws seek to secure partisan advantage by eliminating trusted practices with proven safeguards and replacing practices conducive to manipulation.”
Saban has largely stayed out of politics, particularly since taking over the Crimson Tide in 2007, but has appeared in campaign ads for his longtime friend Manchin.
One of the few times he pointed his foot was while joining Alabama athletes and other school officials on a 2020 “Black Lives Matter” march. It ended with a ceremony and speeches outside the Foster Auditorium, where former Alabama Governor George Wallace was standing in a last-ditch effort to stop desegregation.
He has also made numerous public service announcements encouraging vaccinations against COVID-19.
The letter elicited a quick response from a Republican congressman from another state.
“Nick Saban should be focused on winning the national championships instead of destroying our elections,” said Ralph Norman, representing South Carolina. tweeted Tuesday.
Update: According to CNN, Saban asked to include a footnote in the letter stating that he is not in favor of eliminating the filibuster and that, “He thinks it will destroy the checks and balances that we must have in our democracy.” CNN reported that the footnote stated that the other signatories to the letter “take no position on this aspect of Senate policies.”