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Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation to update Electoral College Act

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Posted at 11:21 AM, Jul 20, 2022

A group of senators announced an agreement to reform the Electoral College Act of 1887, eliminating some ambiguities.

The reforms spell out the vice president’s role in counting Electoral College votes, raise the threshold to issue a challenge to a state’s slate of electors, expedite judicial review and identify each state’s governor as the person responsible for sending a slate of electors to Congress.

The reforms come nearly 18 months after hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol during the counting of Electoral College votes.

Witnesses have testified to the House Jan. 6 Committee that Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to reject designated Joe Biden electors and replace them with a slate of electors in favor of Trump in several states. Had Pence gone along with Trump’s plan, it is unclear how exactly things would have played out, but retired federal Judge Michael Luttig testified it would have caused a “constitutional crisis.”

Nine Republicans and eight Democrats have signed the agreement. Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins took the lead in negotiations.

“From the beginning, our bipartisan group has shared a vision of drafting legislation to fix the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” the senators said in a joint statement. “Through numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of election experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President. We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, commonsense reforms.”

The Electoral College is counted on Jan. 6, following the November election. A winning presidential candidate needs to win a majority of the 538 electors to become president.

States appoint electors based on the results of that state’s presidential elections, with 48 states and Washington, D.C. awarding electors solely based on that state’s vote.