WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a “discussion draft” of the Electoral Count Modernization Act, the highly-anticipated legislation to update the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA). The ECA was devised in the decade following the disputed 1876 presidential election between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden. The archaic law, which outlines Congress’ procedures for election certification, has received renewed attention after the unprecedented Republican objection to election results on Jan. 6, 2021.
“We recognize that updating the Electoral Count Act is not a substitute for confronting the wider crises facing our democracy,” wrote the senators, noting the concern of many activist groups. Nonetheless, the Electoral Count Modernization Act would provide a much-needed update to the 1887 law. The draft plan released would:
- Change the date for the meeting of electors (moving it later in December to give states more time to complete recounts and litigation, if necessary).
- Clarify the role of the vice president when presiding over the joint session to count electoral votes in Congress, specifying that the vice president does not have the power to reject electors or resolve disputes.
- Outline a limited number of legitimate grounds for which members of Congress may object to electors.
- Raise the threshold for Congress to consider objections from “at least one Senator and and one Member of the House of Representatives” to one-third of each chamber.
- Raise the threshold to sustain that objection and more.
“Taken together, the proposed legislation would confront electoral subversion at both the state and federal levels by helping ensure that partisan politicians cannot substitute their own preferences for the judgment of the American people in presidential elections,” said the trio of senators.
Recent reporting has indicated there is bipartisan support for updates to the ECA — stay tuned for more updates.