Skip to content
The House panel questions were first offered after January.  6 Voter Count Law Reforms : NPR

 | News Today

The House panel questions were first offered after January. 6 Voter Count Law Reforms : NPR

| Business News Today | Usa news


Members of Congress object to the certification of votes, authorized under Nevada’s Voter Count Act, during a resumed joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. It was defeated because a senator did not join in the objection.

Win McNamee/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle legend

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House panel questions were first offered after January.  6 Voter Count Law Reforms : NPR

 | News Today

Members of Congress object to the certification of votes, authorized under Nevada’s Voter Count Act, during a resumed joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. It was defeated because a senator did not join in the objection.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

A congressional committee released the first staff report on the Election Reform Act, a key target for lawmakers now considering new legislative solutions to protect elections in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The Democratic-led House Administration Committee released the 31-page report on the 1887 Voter Count Act of 1887 Thursday night, after months of review by a team of legal experts and staff. Lawmakers say the siege made it clear that former President Trump and other Republicans tried to exploit weaknesses in the law to drive efforts to overturn the results.

Committee staff said the dated law ‘is badly in need of reform’ and issued more than half a dozen proposals, including dramatically raising the threshold for objection to the results of a state’s presidential election and removing the vice president as president.

It could become the basis of legislative proposals for the House select committee investigating the deadly siege and feed into ongoing Senate negotiations on electoral reforms, said California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House Administration Committee and sits January 6. Committee.

“It’s a law that’s over 100 years old,” Lofgren told NPR shortly before the report was released. “It has old language that may not be as clear as we would like, and we are now seeing the potential for threats to the smooth running of elections and the apolitical running of elections in the future.”

“We want to do everything we can to make sure there are no fun cases,” Lofgren added.

The Electoral Count Act, also known as the ECA, dictates the counting of electoral votes following a presidential election. Congress oversees the counting of finalized state votes, while allowing lawmakers to object to the results.

Lofgren said the panel had a team of lawyers and staff reviewing potential changes to the law, and academics from “all political stripes” were consulted along the way. She also noted that there were now talks at the House and Senate staff level about possible reforms to the voter count law.

“I think the personnel analysis will be helpful,” Lofgren said. “So the public can take a look at … what the options are – as well as the senators.”

The timing of the potential reforms could prove fortuitous for Congress: Senate Democrats are about to do one last job of pushing through major voting rights legislation that is doomed to fail without the Republican support. Traction on a new wave of election security proposals could instead offer Democrats a consolation prize.

Bipartite pulling potential

Key Republicans, such as Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have already expressed interest in bolstering the CEA. And members of a bipartisan group, including Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins, have launched talks to address this and other laws in the wake of the Jan. 6 violence.

Earlier this week, Collins told reporters that the Voter Count Act is now a “central part” of the bipartisan group’s talks.

For example, only one member from each house is currently required to raise objections to state election results. That fueled Republican attempts last year to thwart President Biden’s election certification and delayed proceedings, which were disrupted by the Capitol breach.

“Our group seems to have a consensus that it would take more than one House member and one Senate member to challenge the state’s voter count,” Collins told reporters. “This is a reform that desperately needs to be done.”

House administration staff are proposing to raise that threshold so that at least one-third of each house is needed for an objection to be heard — that’s more than 30 senators and 140 House members.

“The increased threshold would ensure that objections are credible and have substantial support in both houses before the houses are forced to consider them,” the House Administration staff report says.

The reforms would ensure the timely completion of the count, prevent individual members from obstructing debates and reduce the chances that Congress will reject a state’s electoral votes, the staff said.

In addition, the report argues that objections to a state’s results should be subject to supermajority voting — not simple majority — in both houses.

Limiting the role of the vice president in certifying elections and other reforms

Ahead of proceedings on Jan. 6 last year, then-President Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to step down from his ceremonial role in order to quash the Biden victory. Shortly before the proceedings began, Pence issued a letter rejecting the ruling, infuriating Trump who lambasted Pence even as the Jan. 6 attack was underway.

The House Administration staff report says the Deputy Speaker should not preside over the count. After all, the vice president is often on his party ticket, seeking either the top spot or a second term. The president should instead be the acting president of the Senate, usually a senator from the majority party with the most seniority, according to the report.

In previous election counts, people who have filled this role have never been in a simultaneous position to run for president, the report notes.

In addition, according to the staff, the vice president’s role should be limited to a “constitutional minimum,” which is to receive electoral votes from states, open votes during the count, and deliver votes to the president. And the ECA should be clearer about the president’s ultimate powers, according to the report.

“The ECA should also clarify that the Presiding Officer has no substantial discretion over the counting of the votes, which means that he will not be authorized to determine which votes are counted or not counted, or presented or not presented. submitted, and shall in all cases apply the ECA rules as written, in consultation with congressional parliamentarians,” the report said.

The report goes on to suggest new timelines after a presidential election. For example, he proposes delaying the so-called “safe harbor” deadline for states to file election results from early December to later that month – easing the pressure on election officials and giving states more time to settle persistent contests. The extended delay would also shorten the window between receiving those states’ election results and certifying them to Congress.

The staff also advocates for a reduction in states’ ability to nominate voters after Election Day, and Congress should make it clear that states can count mail in ballots before, on or after Election Day.

These measures would end ambiguity over the timing of presidential elections, clarify the role of Congress and limit its role in future controversies, while benefiting neither party in the effort, according to the report.

“Confusion and chaos are not acceptable when the United States undertakes a transfer of power,” the report asserts. “If passed, these reforms will help ensure that the events of January 6, 2021 do not happen again in the future.”

The House panel questions were first offered after January. 6 Voter Count Law Reforms : NPR

| Latest News Headlines Local news
NPR News

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.