Protect Democracy Welcomes the Senate Rules Committee’s Vote to Advance the Electoral Count Reform Act

  • September 27, 2022

Today, the Senate Rules Committee advanced S.4573, the Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA), on a bipartisan vote of 14-1 (with an additional two proxy votes in support) after the bill was amended. The ECRA, which emerged from a bipartisan Senate working group this summer and was the subject of an early August hearing in the Senate Rules Committee, would fix dangerous weaknesses in the Electoral Count Act (ECA) and help to ensure the peaceful transfer of power following future presidential elections. Together with last week’s passage of ECA reform in the House, the vote shows strong bipartisan momentum for updating this antiquated law to strengthen our democracy.

In reaction to the ECRA being voted out of the Senate Rules Committee, Genevieve Nadeau, counsel with Protect Democracy, released the following statement:

“The bipartisan vote to advance the Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA) underscores the momentum and cross-ideological consensus on the urgent need for Congress to update the Electoral Count Act (ECA) and strengthen presidential elections in the future. We applaud the Senate Rules Committee for making meaningful improvements to the ECRA, progress that complements House action on a similar reform bill last week. We now call on Congress to finish the job and pass the strongest ECA reform possible by the end of the year.”

The legislation, which currently has 22 co-sponsors (11 Republicans and 11 Democrats), 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 substitute amendment offered by Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, which was approved unanimously by the Rules Committee, made a number of changes that address issues raised at the August hearing and elsewhere. These changes do not alter the overall intent or structure of the bill, but do clarify certain provisions while also somewhat narrowing differences with the ECA reform bill that recently passed the House.

The legislation also includes amendments to the Presidential Transition Act to help ensure a smooth transition even when there are delays in determining the winner of a presidential election. The bill would ensure both candidates begin receiving transition resources if there is not a clear winner after 5 days, and would establish clear criteria for the General Services Administrator to determine the presumptive winner.

For more information on updating the ECA, visit our website which is updated regularly and includes an ECRA explainer, an FAQ on ECA reforms, and an updated ECA reform comparison chart.

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