WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Dec. 22, the U.S. Senate passed S.4573, a bipartisan bill to reform the antiquated Electoral Count Act, as part of the omnibus spending package to fund the federal government next year. The omnibus now goes to the House, which must vote to approve the bill by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
S.4573, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, is designed to reform the process by which Congress counts Electoral College votes to avoid a repeat of the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The bill
- Clarifies that the role of the vice president is purely ceremonial,
- Raises the threshold for members of Congress to initiate objections to electoral results to one-fifth of each chamber,
- Ensures there is one conclusive slate of electors from each state
- And outlines a process for expedited court review of election results.
In September, the Senate Rules Committee additionally amended the bill to
- Make U.S. Supreme Court review of any federal litigation over the certification of state electors discretionary rather than mandatory,
- Ensure the judicial review procedure provided in the act doesn’t exclude litigation in other state and federal courts
- And clarify the language around certification of electors to specify that during the counting of electoral college votes, Congress must treat the electors certified by a state and modified by any state or federal court relief as conclusive.