Washington, D.C.—Today a bipartisan Senate group introduced legislation to update the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA), the statute that governs the casting and counting of electoral votes for president and vice president every four years. The Electoral Count Reform Act is the work of Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Sinema, Romney, Shaheen, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Capito, Cardin, Young, Coons, Sasse, and Graham. This legislation comes after the 2020 election laid bare the weaknesses in the antique and confusing Electoral Count Act.
The legislation proposes critically important reforms to the ECA. It would clarify the vice president’s limited role in the counting of electoral votes and protect the will of the voters by better ensuring that lawful state-level determinations of election results are respected by Congress (including by raising the threshold for members of Congress to make objections), and by establishing guardrails against state actors who try to disregard election results. In particular, the legislation would require states to appoint electors on Election Day except in narrow and extraordinary circumstances, such as a major natural disaster, and require Congress to count electoral votes that the courts have determined comply with state and federal law.
The legislation reflects a growing cross-partisan consensus on the urgent need to update the ECA and the key elements of reform. Protect Democracy looks forward to working with Congress on ensuring passage of the strongest possible ECA reform legislation this year.
In reaction to the introduction of this legislation, Genevieve Nadeau, counsel with Protect Democracy, released the following statement:
“As the nation witnessed during the last presidential transition, our election system isn’t fully equipped to withstand partisan attempts to overturn presidential election results. For that reason we are glad that Senators filed legislation today that would fix many dangerous ambiguities in the antiquated Electoral Count Act of 1887. Importantly, ECA reforms like those proposed today will not benefit either political party, but will better safeguard the will of the voters and ensure the peaceful transition of power—a hallmark of our democracy since its founding”.
For more information on updating the ECA, visit our website which has extensive materials, including FAQs, public polling, think pieces, as well as a chart comparing the major reform proposals that have been made public to date.