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[WATCH] Manchin and Collins Lead Bipartisan Effort to Overhaul Electoral Count Act

[WATCH] Manchin and Collins Lead Bipartisan Effort to Overhaul Electoral Count Act

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made the case on Wednesday for overhauling the 1800s-era Electoral Count Act, pushing for quick passage of a bipartisan compromise that would make it harder for a losing candidate to overturn legitimate results of a presidential election.

The bipartisan group of nine Republicans and seven Democrats collaborated on the proposed changes as a response to Donald Trump and his allies pushing courts, state legislatures, and Congress to somehow overturn his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden. Trump’s efforts culminated in the violence of January 6, 2021, when hundreds of his supporters pushed past police and broke into the Capitol as Congress was certifying the results.

The Electoral Count Act of 1887 governs the counting and certification of electoral votes in presidential elections and has long been criticized as confusing, antiquated, vaguely written, and vulnerable to abuse. Those fears were realized after the 2020 election when Trump’s allies worked to exploit those weaknesses, pushing states to put forward alternate slates of fake electors and pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to use his ceremonial role in the Congressional joint session on January 6th to object to the results or delay certification.

An update to the electoral law is “something our country desperately needs,” Manchin said Wednesday, testifying at a Senate hearing on the bill. “The time for Congress to act is now.” The legislation would add a series of safeguards to the electoral count, increasing the thresholds for challenging results so state or federal officials can’t exploit loopholes to advocate for a preferred candidate.

The updated bill would also reinforce that the vice president’s role over the electoral count is “solely ministerial,” with no power to change the results, make it clear that Congress can only accept the one legitimate slate of electors from each state, and make it harder for members of either party to object to the results. And it would strike an outdated law that could allow some state legislatures to override the popular vote.

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