A bipartisan group of senators urged a rewrite Wednesday of the 19th-century law that outlines the procedures for counting electoral votes in presidential elections, in hopes of preventing another event like the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
The proposed amendments to the Electoral Count Act that was originally passed in 1887,, would mark the first update of the law in over a century. Months of negotiations have been held by lawmakers to determine how the electoral votes should count.
One of these revisions would clarify that the vice-president, who oversees the count, does not have the power to oppose certification of electoral votes. In January 2021, then-President Donald Trump attempted to press Vice President Mike Pence to refuse electoral votes from President Biden’s contested swing state.
” We have a unique opportunity to modernize our system for certifying the election votes and counting them,” stated Sen. Susan Collins (Maine Republican). The orderly transfer and execution of power is essential for the survival of democracy. There are no clearer rules .”
to ensure that it happens
Ms. Collins and Senator Joe Manchin III (West Virginia Democrat) testified in support of the legislation before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
Mr. Manchin stated that the Jan. 6 events prove the need to reform the law, and ensure future elections don’t get hampered.
” We were there all on January 6. It happened. “That was real,” said Mr. Manchin. It was not an unexpected visit from friends back home, and it is our responsibility to ensure that this does not happen again. This bill is a critical need for our country and must be corrected .”
The bill directly targets several of Donald Trump’s plots to reverse the 2020 election. This includes pressuring Mike Pence to oppose the certification of votes, and to encourage alternate lists of voters from battleground states that Mr. Biden.
The updated law clarifies the role of the vice president in certifying an electoral count. It would also leave the governors of each state in charge of the submission of electoral certificates in order to lessen the risk of competing electors and increase the number of legislators who can object to the results.
“It’ll help eliminate frivolous objections, and keep it at more serious concerns,” said Ms. Collins.
Currently, only one member of the House or Senate may object to the electors submitted in their place by the state. The revised law would require 20% to contest the results.
In 2020 elections, six GOP senators (6%) objected, as well as 147 House member (33%.
Seven House Democrats opposed votes from Alabama and Florida as a result of Mr. Trump’s win in 2016,.
To break the filibuster in order to pass the Senate, 60 would be required. Nine Republicans have already endorsed the bill. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he was open to updating the 135-year-old law.
But the bill is not popular with everyone. Even Democrats, who feel the bill doesn’t go enough to secure election security.
” There’s still room for improvement,” stated Senator Alex Padilla (California Democrat).
Members of the House Jan.6 committee also dismissed the bill’s effectiveness, but are considering issuing their version to amend the law.
” I don’t mean to be critical but some aspects of the work we have done are better,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (California Democrat) told Politico.
Donald Trump also rejected the bill and reiterated his belief in the power of the vice president to oppose the certification for a presidential electoral.
“Senators meet right now to discuss reforming the Electoral Count Act. This will allow a vice-president to no longer be able do anything that EVERYBODY (except for some conservative legal scholars) said wasn’t allowed. They all lied. “The VP could’ve sent false votes back to State Legislatures,” Mr. Trump stated in a statement.
The debate over the bill came also as many election workers gave testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the increased threats that they have faced since the 2020 elections.
Jocelyn Benson is Michigan’s Secretary-of-State. She said that she does not believe the bill goes far enough in order to deal with the threat to electoral procedures and the people involved.
Ms. Benson is a Democrat and said that she would like to see tougher punishments for those who attempt to harm or threaten election workers, as well as enhanced security to protect their personal data, similar to federal judges.
” I’m thankful that a number of your fellows have reached bipartisan arrangements to reform the Electoral Count Act. But that isn’t enough,” Ms. Benson stated. We need to take action because states like Michigan are not acting .”
Ms. Collins stated that she would like to see the bill move to a committee marking up, then be taken up in either September or the lame duck session following the midterms.