HomeLearning CenterProposed reforms for the Electoral Count Act draw broad support

Proposed reforms for the Electoral Count Act draw broad support

A newly unveiled proposal aimed at reforming the Electoral Count Act, a widely criticized 135-year-old law governing the process of casting and counting Electoral College votes, has garnered widespread support among election experts.

The 1887 Electoral Count Act has long been lambasted by legal experts, who argue the law is poorly written, vague and antiquated.

“Imagine that there was a law on the books requiring you to travel by horse and buggy. That is literally what the Electoral Count Act is like,” Rebecca Green, co-director of the election law program at the College of William & Mary, told Here & Now.

The proposed changes, mapped out Wednesday by a bipartisan group of senators, are aimed at ensuring a peaceful transition of power, a tradition that came under threat in 2021, when then-President Donald Trump led a pressure campaign on state and congressional lawmakers, and his own vice president, to overturn the election results.

The reforms would clarify that the vice president has a “solely ministerial” role in counting Electoral College votes as president of the Senate, and make it harder for lawmakers to challenge a state’s electoral votes.

Lawmakers have warned that waiting to address the flaws in the existing law could lead to additional confusion and chaos in subsequent elections, as many fear a repeat of 2021.

“If you’re not sleeping well at night about the 2024 election, I think you can sleep a lot better if this bill passes,” Ned Foley, director of the election law program at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, told Here & Now.


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