This article appeared in the December 20, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Good news on protecting democracy

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota (left), chair of the Senate Rules Committee, and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt from Missouri, the ranking member, open a meeting on the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 27, 2022. The bill is a response to the Jan. 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump's efforts to find a way around the Electoral Count Act, the 19th-century law that, along with the Constitution, governs how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential election winners.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

Want a good-news story from Washington? Here’s one: Congress is very close to protecting democracy by plugging holes in a crucial 135-year-old law.

At issue is the Electoral Count Act, which governs the counting of Electoral College votes and the naming of presidents-elect. Bipartisan groups of lawmakers have been working on reforming this antique for months. 

Their reform would tighten wording to ensure states submit only one slate of Electoral College electors. No fake slates of self-designated “electors,” as allies of former President Donald Trump produced after the 2020 vote.

It would state that the role of the vice president is “solely ministerial” when counting electoral votes. That would write into direct language the conclusion that many scholars – and former Vice President Mike Pence – already hold.

It would also make it harder for members of Congress to object to a state’s electors, and for state legislators to override their state’s vote.

Jan. 6 committee evidence has shown how Mr. Trump and his allies tried to manipulate the legal process to overturn a presidential vote. Electoral Count Act reform could deter that from happening again.

It has been near passage for months. Now it has been folded into the omnibus spending bill that needs to pass this week to avoid a government shutdown. That’s a crucial measure, so chances for electoral reform are good.

“Reform of the [Electoral Count Act] is the single most important reform that Congress can take to prevent future stolen elections,” UCLA professor Rick Hasen wrote today on his election law blog.

This article appeared in the December 20, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 12/20 edition
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