WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators proposed new laws on Wednesday to modernize the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, working to overhaul a regulation that President Donald J. Trump tried to abuse on Jan. 6, 2021, to intrude with Congress’s certification of his election defeat.
The laws goals to assure a peaceable transition from one president to the subsequent, after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol demonstrated how the present regulation could possibly be manipulated to disrupt the method. One measure would make it tougher for lawmakers to problem a state’s electoral votes when Congress meets to make its official depend. It would additionally make clear that the vp has no discretion over the outcomes and set out the steps to start a presidential transition.
A second invoice would improve penalties for threats and intimidation of election officers and encourage steps to enhance the dealing with of mail-in ballots by the Postal Service.
Alarmed on the occasions of Jan. 6 that confirmed longstanding flaws within the regulation governing the electoral depend course of, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, has been assembly for months to strive to agree on a rewrite.
“From the beginning, our bipartisan group has shared a vision of drafting legislation to fix the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” 16 senators stated in a joint assertion. “Through numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of election experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for president and vice president.”
Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings
Though the authors should not have the minimal 10 Republican senators wanted to assure the laws might make it previous a filibuster and to last passage, they hope to spherical up enough backing for a vote later this 12 months.
The legislative effort started after the Jan. 6 assault, which unfolded as Congress met for the historically routine counting of the electoral ballots that’s the final official affirmation of presidential election outcomes earlier than the inauguration.
In the run-up to the riot, Mr. Trump tried unsuccessfully to persuade Vice President Mike Pence — who presided over the session in his capability as president of the Senate — to unilaterally block the tally, citing false claims of election fraud.
The new laws focuses primarily on the dealing with of electoral votes and doesn’t incorporate wider voting protections sought by Democrats after some states instituted new legal guidelines seen as making it tougher for folks to vote following Democratic victories in 2020. Senate Republicans have beforehand blocked these voting measures.
There is widespread sentiment in Congress that some steps want to be taken to bolster the Electoral Count Act, although there could also be disagreement on the particular provisions.
“The Electoral Count Act does need to be fixed,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority chief, instructed reporters on Tuesday, saying he was “sympathetic” to the goals of these engaged on the laws.
Under the proposal to overhaul the vote depend, a state’s governor can be recognized as the only official chargeable for submitting the state’s slate of electors following the presidential vote, barring different officers from doing so.
In an effort to forestall frivolous efforts to object to a state’s electoral depend, a minimal of one-fifth of the House and Senate can be wanted to lodge an objection — a considerable improve from the present threshold of 1 House member and one senator. Objections would nonetheless have to be sustained by a majority of the House and Senate.
Following a standoff over the presidential transition in 2020, when Trump administration officers initially refused to present President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. the funding and workplace house to start preparations for assuming energy, the laws would enable multiple candidate to obtain transition assets if the result remained in dispute.
After the push by Mr. Trump and his allies to get Mr. Pence to manipulate the electoral depend in Mr. Trump’s favor, the laws would stipulate that the vp’s function is especially ceremonial and that “he or she does not have any power to solely determine, accept, reject or otherwise adjudicate disputes over electors.”
Beside Ms. Collins, the opposite Republican members of the bipartisan group backing the overhaul are Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Todd Young of Indiana.
In addition to Mr. Manchin, the Democrats are Senators Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Chris Coons of Delaware, Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Mark Warner of Virginia.