Today the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration worked on a bipartisan basis to mark up and pass the Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA). This bill amends the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA), which sets forth procedures for the certification of a state’s presidential electors by its governor, how the electors are to cast their votes, and how Congress is to count those votes. The legislation passed today would correct ambiguities and confusing procedures in the Electoral Count Act, including vague provisions, like those dealing with the role of the vice president, that former President Donald Trump and others exploited in their attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 election. Today in its markup, the Rules Committee made further improvements to the Electoral Count Reform Act, primarily to the provisions that provide a special federal judicial process in cases where a state’s governor either fails to certify the appointment of their state’s electors or efforts to certify an unlawful slate. Last week the House passed its own reform of the Electoral Count Act containing a number of overlapping provisions and improvements.
Daniel I. Weiner, director of the Elections and Government Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the following reaction:
"The Electoral Count Reform Act as amended by the Rules Committee is a very strong bill, and the Senate should pass it quickly. As the Senate and House negotiate final legislation, we hope that they will make a small number of additional targeted improvements, such as extending the timeframe for resolving disputes over certification, as provided in the House bill.
“The bill marked up and passed out of the Senate Rules Committee today would fix many deficiencies in the antiquated Electoral Count Act, including provisions that were exploited in the effort to overturn the 2020 election and others that could be used to try to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in the future. We are pleased to see bipartisan agreement about the very real threat that election sabotage poses to American democracy and congressional resolve to address it.”
Wendy R. Weiser, vice president of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, added:
“Fixing the Electoral Count Act is critical, but it is not enough. It eliminates some avenues for election sabotage, but many others remain. Congress must continue to work to pass broader safeguards against election manipulation, including baseline national standards to secure the right of every eligible American to vote and have one’s vote counted, restoring the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination, stronger safeguards for election officials and workers, and measures to secure our election infrastructure. Bipartisan momentum to fix the Electoral Count Act represents real progress, but Congress’s work is far from done.”
- Brennan Center: “How to Fix the 1887 Electoral Count Act,” June 2022