Congress shuts the door on election loopholes
On December 23rd, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the U.S. Senate in passing, on a bipartisan basis, the Electoral Count Reform Act. This act clarifies and updates the rules for electing our president and vice-president.
In the 2020 election, the result was very clear. The 81 million votes received by the winner, Joe Biden, were 51.3% of the popular vote, and his victory in the electoral college was decisive, 306 to 232.
The loser of that election, Donald Trump, insisted that his lawyers file multiple lawsuits falsely claiming that the election was tainted by “widespread fraud”. These lawsuits were found to be without merit by many courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Despite these legal defeats, Trump put pressure on state officials, members of congress, and his own vice-president to reverse the result of the election.
These actions led to the passage of the Electoral Count Reform Act. This act makes several changes that significantly decrease the possibility of a future candidate attempting to illegally reverse the results of a lawful presidential election. Some examples:
The role of the Vice-President is clearly stated as “solely ministerial”, with no power to “determine, accept, reject, or otherwise adjudicate or resolve disputes.”
Instead of allowing one senator and one representative to lodge an objection to the electoral count, the new law requires an objection by at least 20% of both the senate and the house to temporarily stop the count. Also, if there is this level of objection debate would be limited to 2 hours.
If some electoral votes are rejected by the congress, the majority threshold for winning the presidency will fall to a majority of congressionally certified electoral votes.
States are now required to appoint electors in accordance with state laws “enacted prior to election day”. No possibility of changing election rules after the election.
Eighteen Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Thune, voted in favor of the Electoral Count Reform Act. The need for this legislation was highlighted in a recent Trump post, in which he suggested that rules and regulations, including the Constitution, should be abandoned to enable him to resume his position as president.
The Electoral Count Reform Act is an important step toward preventing a dishonest future candidate, either Trump or someone else, from reversing the result of a lawful presidential election.
Gretta Van Bree