After the inclusion of the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act (S. 4573) in this year’s omnibus appropriations bill, which will update the Electoral Count Act (ECA), Issue One released the following statement from Founder and CEO Nick Penniman:
“We’re very pleased that much-needed updates to the Electoral Count Act are included in the omnibus bill that’s making its way through Congress. We’ve been working assiduously for nearly two years to build bipartisan support for this critical effort. Our democracy and our next presidential election can’t wait.
“Modernizing the ECA is essential for the stability of America’s presidential elections and for the global reputation of democracy itself. By updating the ECA, our elected leaders can reaffirm that elections are decided by the voters — not rogue partisan actors, vice presidents, or state legislatures. The true power of our democracy has and will always reside in the hands of the people.
“Thanks to these updates, the final certification steps following future presidential elections will be clear. There will be less confusion about Congress’ role, fewer possibilities for a ‘rogue’ state legislature or governor to be disruptive, and clear procedures for judicial review.
“Our deepest gratitude goes out to the many allies who have helped along the way, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who spearheaded a bipartisan working group to tackle this important issue, and Senate Rules Committee Chair and Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), who were committed to seeing this bill across the finish line this year.
“We urge members in both chambers to pass the omnibus as soon as possible.”
For nearly two years, Issue One has 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.
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 is rife with arcane language and ambiguities, allowing for multiple interpretations of key terms and provisions and making it susceptible to exploitation.
As it currently stands, the ECA allows members of Congress too much latitude to try to override the will of a state’s voters. It does not include a sufficiently definitive process for resolving disputes surrounding Congress’s counting of electoral votes, nor does it adequately address the potential for rogue state legislatures to dismiss the will of the voters and submit a false slate of electors to Congress.
As Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairs Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) and Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN) have stated, “Our ability to elect a president and vice president every four years, count the votes fairly, and transfer power peacefully has kept our grand experiment in self-government functioning since our founding. It is the constitutional foundation that sustains us, and it is what we must protect if we wish to keep our democracy. Today, our nation is once again faced with a historic opportunity to strengthen our democracy by reaffirming that elections are decided only by the voters.”
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 indicated that the end-of-year spending package was “the appropriate place to put it.”
Issue: Election Administration