Today, Issue One and the bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity celebrate the final passage of the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act (S. 4573), legislation updating the Electoral Count Act (ECA), which was included in this year’s omnibus appropriations bill. This is the culmination of a nearly two-year effort that brought Republicans and Democrats in Congress together to ensure the peaceful transfer of power following future presidential elections.
“Our nation is stronger today because of elected representatives from both parties who rose above politics as usual and put our democratic republic first,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. “After a powerful speech delivered to Congress and the American people by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the critical role America must continue to play on the world stage to defeat the rise of authoritarianism, this hard-fought victory is a meaningful step that protects our elections, the will of the voters, and preserves our standing as the most powerful democracy on the planet. We are deeply grateful to the leaders in both the House and Senate who remained committed to getting this done before the end of the year, particularly Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who spearheaded the working group to tackle this important issue, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). Their tireless work and dedication made this possible.”
Each of the four co-chairs of Issue One’s bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity also praised today’s passage:
“America and democracy are one and the same. Throughout our 245-year history, voters have determined elections, not kings or dictators,” said Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN). “Passing historic bipartisan reform of the Electoral Count Act of 1887 ensures that ‘we the people’ are in charge and the guardrails around our republic are solid and strong. This hard-fought victory is a meaningful step that will protect against another catastrophic attack on our Capitol and our Constitution.”
Added Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA): “American democracy was pushed to the brink last year when the former president and his allies attempted to stop the peaceful transfer of power and overturn the result of a free and fair election by exploiting loopholes in the Electoral Count Act. Today, Congress has come together to clarify the law and stand in support of our Constitution and the rule of law. This is a great victory for our democratic republic, and the principle that voters decide elections, not politicians.”
Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) also said: “I grew up with the maxim, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ January 6, 2021, was a very tough day in American history. Ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act and disinformation were weaponized and used to mobilize citizens against our own government. But thanks to the efforts of organizations like Issue One, the National Council on Election Integrity, and patriots in Congress who placed country over party, we have taken historic action to prevent another constitutional crisis following future presidential elections. The peaceful transfer of power is a sacred hallmark of our democracy, separating us from authoritarian regimes across the globe. But as we witnessed last year, our democratic republic is more fragile than we know, and it takes all of us to protect it. By passing an update to the Electoral Count Act, we have done just that.”
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) concluded: “This bipartisan update of the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is momentous and will strengthen the guardrails of our democracy for generations to come. When the history books are written, this 117th Congress will be remembered for working together, when the stakes were high, to defend our system of self-governance and uphold the will of the people. Regardless of party affiliation, we must all pledge allegiance to the freedoms we hold dear and seek common ground where it exists so that we remain a beacon of liberty for the world to see.”
For nearly two years, Issue One played a leading role in the effort to pass a bipartisan update to the ECA to protect against a full-blown constitutional crisis following future presidential elections. At an event hosted by Issue One’s bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity at the National Press Club last month, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reiterated the importance of passing a full and complete update to the ECA this year, and said the end-of-year spending package was “the appropriate place to put it.”
For generations, the process of Congress counting the Electoral College votes for president and vice president has been a straightforward and arcane affair. Yet as we saw last year and throughout several elections in the last 20 years, the ECA was rife with arcane language and ambiguities, which allowed for multiple interpretations of key terms and provisions and made it susceptible to exploitation.
The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act will insulate the country from a full-blown constitutional crisis following future presidential elections. It does so by making the following updates to the ECA:
- Ensures that only one single slate of electors can be submitted to Congress, and confirms that that slate must reflect the results of the presidential election in that state.
- Provides for expedited judicial review when there is a dispute involving more than one slate of electors, preventing state legislatures and other actors from submitting false election certificates to Congress.
- Affirms the role of the Vice President on January 6th is strictly ministerial.
- Raises the threshold to object to a state’s electoral count at the joint session of Congress to 20% of each chamber.