Shaheen and bipartisan group of senators introduce reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887

July 20, 2022

(Washington DC) – Today, WE Senator Shaheen (D-NH) and a bipartisan group of Sgenerators to presented two proposals that include legislation to reform and modernize the old Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes counted by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president.

Led by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), othe Sgenerators involved in bipartite negotiations to understand: Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“From the beginning, our bipartisan group shared a vision for drafting legislation to correct the flaws in the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” the Sgenerators said in a joint statement. “Through numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of electoral experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our electoral vote certification and counting system. for the president and the vice-president. We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, common sense reforms. »

In crafting the bills, the senators received input from state election officials, as well as an ideologically diverse group of election experts and legal scholars, including the American Law Institute. Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Rankings Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) also provided helpful insight.

“Debates about the political ‘rules of the game’ can be fraught with mistrust and maneuvering for advantage. When these rules change, there must be buy-in from both parties to maintain trust in the system,” said Matthew Weil, executive director of the democracy program at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “This bipartisan Senate framework is a critical step to buttressing the ambiguities of the Voter Count Act. These senators, especially Senators Manchin and Collins, should be commended for finding common ground on an issue so fundamental to our democracy: faith in the system that selects our leaders.

“We are impressed with the Voter Count Act reform bill developed by a bipartisan Senate task force, including Senators Collins, Manchin, Romney and Murphy,” said Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, co-chairs of the Presidential Reform Project. “Our work on these reform issues, which included co-chairing an expert panel convened by the American Law Institute (ALI), has convinced us that major improvements to the current law are both urgent and achievable. . We believe that the legislation as proposed will help reduce threats to future presidential elections that would erode the fundamental democratic principles of our country. He deserves wide support.

The first invoice, the Law on the reform of the electoral count and the improvement of the presidential transition, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Sinema, Romney, Shaheen, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Capito, Cardin, Young, Coons, Sasse and Graham. The bill includes the following provisions:

1) Law on the reform of the electoral count. This section would reform and modernize the old Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes counted by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president. It would replace the ambiguous provisions of the 19th century law with clear procedures that would maintain the appropriate state and federal roles in the selection of the President and Vice President of the United States, as set out in the US Constitution. Click on HERE for a page on the Electoral Count Act reform section.

2) Presidential Transition Improvement Act. This section would help promote the orderly transfer of power by providing clear guidance on when eligible candidates for president or vice president can receive federal resources to support their transition to office. Click on HERE for a one-pager on the presidential transition section.

The second bill, the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Shaheen, Romney, Sinema, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Coons and Cardin. The bill includes the following provisions:

1) Tougher Penalties to Protect Our Elections Act. This section would double the penalty under federal law for people who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters or candidates. Under current law, threats of violence or intimidation against such persons are punishable by up to one year in prison. This sentence would be increased to a maximum of two years in prison.

2) Postal Service Election Improvement Act. This section aims to improve the handling election mail by the U.S. Postal Service and provide advice to states to improve their mail-in voting processes where authorized by state law.

3) Reauthorization of the Electoral Assistance Commission. This section would reauthorize the Electoral Assistance Commission (EAC) for 5 years, and requiring the EAC to perform cybersecurity testing as part of its voting system testing and certification process. Established by the Help America Pass the 2002 Act, the EAC is an independent agency that helps states improve the administration and security of federal elections. The EAC administers state grants and develops non-binding guidance and best practices for election officials in a variety of areas, including cybersecurity, election audits, and accessible voting. The authorization for the EAC, which is headed by two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, expired in fiscal year 2005, although the agency continued to receive annual appropriations for its operations.

4) Protection of Electoral Records Act. This section would clarify that current law requires that electronic voter records be retained. It would also increase existing maximum penalties for people who steal, destroy, conceal, mutilate or willfully alter voter records from $1,000 to $10,000 and from one year in prison to two years in prison. Moreover, it would be illegal to tamper with voting systems.

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