Jan 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: House committee calls for changes to Trump-cited electoral act

Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar are seen objecting to the certification of Arizona' Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar join forces to object to the certification of Arizona's election results on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House Administration Committee — another key player in the building drive to reform the Electoral Count Act — will call for at least four changes to the century-old legislation in a report being released as early as this week, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Calls to update the act, which dates to 1887 and was the vehicle by which former President Trump hoped to reverse his 2020 election loss, have been a rare area of bipartisan interest in both chambers.

What we're watching: The committee, chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), will issue a 40-page report containing three sections: a history of the Electoral Count Act, a synopsis of the problems and a review of proposed reforms.

Key proposed reforms will include:

  1. Raising the threshold for an objection to certifying a state's election results from the tandem of one senator and one House member to a higher number.
  2. Clarifying that the role of the vice president is ceremonial in certifying presidential elections.
  3. Putting in place requirements for what an objection has to be in order to count as an objection.
  4. Clarifying the number of Electoral College votes required to become president when objections for a state with a certain number of Electoral College votes are being adjudicated.

A concurrent House bill, which is being shepherded by Lofgren and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), is close to being completed.

  • It will "pick and choose" from the set of proposals in the House Administration Committee report, people familiar with the deliberations tell Axios.

But, but, but: The Jan 6. select committee is still working on investigating the lead-up to the Capitol attack and the many ways Trump supporters worked to thwart the will of voters.

  • That ongoing effort will complicate the timing for the House bill.

The big picture: There are now efforts in both the House and Senate to reform the Electoral Count Act, after Senate Republicans expressed interest in it last week.

  • In the Senate, a bipartisan group led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is mulling over possible changes as a part of a broader push to strengthen election legislation.
  • In the House, there have been months-long efforts to understand what went wrong on Jan. 6, 2021, and flaws in the Electoral Count Act as it stands.

Go deeper: The momentum has raised fears among other election-reform proponents.

  • They worry alternations to the Electoral Count Act may undercut broader changes that can ensure federal election law supersedes recent Republican-led changes at the state and local levels.
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