Bipartisan Senate Committee Agrees to Rewrite Election Counting Act

WASHINGTON – To intervene in Congressional certification, President Donald J. A bipartisan panel of senators on Wednesday proposed new legislation to modernize the 135-year-old election tally law, replacing the law that Trump tried to abuse on Jan. 6, 2021. His electoral defeat.

The law aims to guarantee a peaceful transition from one president to the next after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol exposed how the current law can be undermined. A measure that would make it harder for lawmakers to challenge when Congress meets to count a state’s electoral votes. It would also make it clear that the vice president has no discretion in decisions, and it would set the procedures for initiating a presidential transition.

The second bill would increase penalties for threats and intimidation of election officials, seek to improve the way the Postal Service handles mail-in ballots and renew for five years an independent federal agency to help states administer and protect federal elections.

While passing the law cannot guarantee that there won’t be a repeat of January 6 in the future, its authors believe that rewriting the antiquated law, especially the provisions related to the role of the vice president, could discourage and increase such efforts. It is difficult to disrupt the counting of votes.

January that exposed long-standing flaws in the law governing the election counting process. 6 Alarmed by the events, a bipartisan group of lawmakers convened, led by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia. Months of trying to agree to a rewrite.

“In four of the last six presidential elections, the process has been abused, with members of both parties raising frivolous objections to electoral votes,” Ms Collins said on Wednesday. “But the violent breach of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 really shined a light on the urgent need for reform.”

In a joint statement, the 16 senators involved in the talks said they set out to “fix the flaws” in the electoral tally law, which they called “archaic and vague.” In consultation with election law experts, the committee hopes to “draft legislation that establishes clear guidelines for the certification and counting of electoral votes for President and Vice President,” the statement said.

Although the authors are short of 10 Republican senators, they hope to have enough support for a vote later this year if the election count bill passes the filibuster and all Democrats support it, guaranteeing final passage. .

Ms. Collins said. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and chair of the committee, was consulted on the legislation.

The bills for this were announced the day before yesterday A prime time inquiry A House committee investigating the events surrounding the January 6 attack, Mr. Including Trump’s multi-layered effort to invalidate his defeat. Mr. They also come as investigations into the efforts of Trump and his associates intensify. Mr. Rudolph W., who spearheaded the push to reverse the election results on behalf of Trump. Giuliani was ordered by a Georgia judge. to appear before a special jury Next month in Atlanta.

Jan. 6 After the attack, legislative efforts began in the Senate, which unfolded as Congress traditionally counted regular election votes, the last official confirmation of presidential election results before taking office. Before the riot, Mr. Trump unsuccessfully persuaded Vice President Mike Pence — who presided over the session as president of the Senate — to unilaterally block the count, citing false claims of election fraud.

The new law focuses on manipulating electoral votes and does not include broader voting protections sought by Democrats after some states instituted new laws to make it harder for people to vote following Democratic victories in 2020. Senate Republicans previously That vote blocked the proceedings.

While there may be disagreements over specific provisions, there is widespread sentiment in Congress that some steps should be taken to strengthen the election tally law, which Mr. Manchin said.

Joseph R. Many Republicans who backed electoral votes for Biden Jr. were optimistic that supporters of the legislation could win this year because of the prospect of controlling the next House. year.

“The vote count law needs to be fixed,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and minority leader, told reporters on Tuesday. Regarding bilateral negotiations, Mrs. He said Collins had informed him and that he was “sympathetic” to the motives of those working in law.

Under the proposal to reform vote counting, a state governor would be identified as the sole official responsible for submitting a state’s voter list following a presidential vote, barring other officials from doing so. That arrangement, Mr. It aims to thwart efforts like those used by Trump and his supporters. presented their own electorate Not ratified by the states and not reflecting the popular vote.

In an effort to prevent baseless attempts to object to a state’s election count, at least one-fifth of the House and Senate must express an objection — a substantial increase from the current limit of one House member and one senator. . Objections must still be sustained by a majority in both the House and Senate.

The bill would create a new fast track for a candidate to challenge a state’s voter turnout. Under the proposal, those claims would be appealed directly to the Supreme Court by a special three-judge panel.

Following an impasse over a presidential transition in 2020, Trump administration officials He initially refused Mr. The legislation would allow more than one candidate to obtain resources for the transition to begin preparations to take office, in order to provide Biden with funding and office space.

Mr. Mr. Trump and his allies. Mr. After the push to get Pence, the law notes that the vice president’s role is mainly ceremonial and “he or she has no authority.” “To determine, accept, reject or otherwise adjudicate only disputes over electors,” the summary of the action reads.

“In terms of any kind of question about the role of the vice president, I think it’s important to make sure that the details around January 6th are cleared,” said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, one of the Democrats. Law.

In addition to Ms. Collins, other Republican members of the bipartisan caucus who support electoral recounts include Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sassi of Nebraska, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Todd Young of Indiana.

Senators of Maryland, Benjamin L. Cardin, Chris Koons of Delaware, Christopher S. of Connecticut. With the exception of Murphy, New Hampshire’s Gene Shaheen and Arizona’s Kirsten Sinema, the Democrats are Mr.

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