- Nov 10, 2006
The Electoral Count Reform Act was successfully voted out of committee in the Senate on Tuesday as Mitch McConnell gave his support
A broad bipartisan group of senators who worked for months on legislation to reform the nineteenth-century law governing the Electoral College process and counting of votes after presidential elections scored two major victories on Tuesday.
First, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky threw his influential support behind their bill and then every member of the Senate Rules Committee -- except Texas' Ted Cruz -- voted to send it to the floor for consideration.
"I strongly support the modest changes that our colleagues in the working group have fleshed out after literally months of detailed discussions. I will proudly support the legislation, provided that nothing more than technical changes are made to its current form," McConnell announced in a floor speech, repeatedly calling the changes to current law "common sense" and "modest."
The rules panel -- meeting in a rare session on Tuesday to formally consider the proposed Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA) authored by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., along with 18 other senators -- made a handful of changes to the bill that lawmakers hope will help ensure states, Congress and future vice presidents can never overturn presidential election results.
The legislation addresses a number of apparent loopholes and procedural vagueness in the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which prescribes how presidential electors are counted every four years.
The law was a major focus of then-President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden, the House's Jan. 6 committee has said. Trump and his allies wanted his vice president, Mike Pence, to reject the electors for Biden and hijack what is historically a ceremonial role in overseeing the certifying of each state's slate of electoral votes.
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The ECRA specifies the vice president's role in the certification is ceremonial.
The bill would dramatically raise the number of congressional objectors required to challenge a state's election results -- up from one lawmaker in each chamber to 20% of members in both the House and Senate.
The ECRA would also clarify that states may not select electors after Election Day, as Trump and his allies sought unsuccessfully to do, according to the Jan. 6 committee; and the legislation would dictate what happens if an alternate slate of electors is presented to Congress, which the Jan. 6 committee has said was another element of Trump's push to reverse his loss.