Here’s how senators are aiming to change the voter count law: NPR


Proposed changes to the voter count law would clarify the role of the vice president in counting state electoral votes. Here, then-Vice President Mike Pence is seen in the House chamber early on January 7, 2021, to complete Electoral College work after a crowd loyal to President Donald Trump stormed Capitol.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP


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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Here's how senators are aiming to change the voter count law: NPR

Proposed changes to the voter count law would clarify the role of the vice president in counting state electoral votes. Here, then-Vice President Mike Pence is seen in the House chamber early on January 7, 2021, to complete Electoral College work after a crowd loyal to President Donald Trump stormed Capitol.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

After months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday announced two proposals related to election administration, including one to reform the Voter Count Act, a widely criticized 1887 law that governs the process of voting and tallying voters. votes of the electoral college and which was the subject of a new ballot following attempts to invalidate the results of the presidential election of January 6, 2021.

The plans were announced a day before the last scheduled prime-time hearing of the House Select Committee on its investigation into the Capitol insurrection.

“From the beginning, our bipartisan group shared a vision for drafting legislation to correct the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Voter Count Act of 1887,” the U.S. senators said in a joint statement.

The senses. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, led the law reform effort, which would need 60 votes to smash a filibuster and pass the Senate. The proposal unveiled Wednesday to reform the law on the electoral count has 16 co-sponsors, including nine Republicans. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky signaled he was ready to update the old law.

The law itself was created after a chaotic election in 1876 that saw Democrat Samuel Tilden win the popular vote but lose the presidency due to disputed election results, as three Southern states sent competing returns. A decade later, Congress enacted the Electoral Count Act to avert a repeat fiasco by establishing a clearer process for electoral college certification.

But as NPR’s Miles Parks reported, some legal experts say the law’s drafters did an “appalling job.”

Members of both major parties opened the door to the ECA update nearly a year after the 2021 attack on the US Capitol, which followed then-President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign. Trump, against his own vice president for abandoning his ceremonial role in tallying the results and helping overturn the election.

Proponents of ECA reform argue that the law is not clear enough about the roles the vice president and Congress play in certifying election results, and that this weakness has been exploited by Trump and his colleagues. allies to try to keep him in power.

How would the law change?

As the law now exists, only one member of the House and one member of the Senate are needed to challenge all voters in any state. (These are the lawmakers who opposed the Electoral College count in 2021.)

The updated wording would increase that threshold, moving the requirement to 20% of each chamber’s members.

The proposal would also enact a few measures “to ensure that Congress can identify a single, conclusive list of voters from each state,” according to a backgrounder. Provisions include:

  • identifying “the governor of each state, unless otherwise specified in the laws or constitution of a state in effect on Election Day, as responsible for presenting the attestation certificate identifying the voters of that state;”
  • and requiring that “Congress defer to voter lists submitted by a state executive pursuant to judgments of state or federal courts.”

And the measure “would nullify a provision of an archaic 1845 statute that could be used by state legislatures to nullify the popular vote in their states by declaring a ‘failed election’ – a term that is not defined in the statute. “.

The bill would also reaffirm that the “constitutional role of the vice president, as chairman of the joint meeting of Congress, is ministerial only.”

Some of the reforms stemmed in part from proposals issued after the Democratic-led House Administration Committee shared a report in January, completed after months of review by legal experts.

The voter count law reform measure also includes a section to provide guidelines on when a new administration can receive federal resources for its transition to office.

In the shadow of the January 6 hearings

The Voter Count Act came up repeatedly during hearings by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

During one of the panel’s hearings, Greg Jacob, who served as lead counsel for Vice President Mike Pence, said that if Pence had complied with Trump’s demands to block or delay the counting of electoral votes the January 6, he allegedly violated various provisions of the Electoral Count Act.

CEA reform associated with an electoral security proposal

The second measure released Wednesday would increase criminal penalties for individuals who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters or candidates; or who steal or alter electoral records or tamper with voting systems.

It would also seek to improve the handling of election mail by the US Postal Service and reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission, an independent agency, for five years.

The proposal comes as election officials across the country have faced pressure and threats following Trump’s lies about stealing the 2020 election.


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