Democratic California Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney introduced legislation on Monday that would limit the ability of members of Congress to object to a state’s electoral vote slate.
The Presidential Election Reform Act would raise the number of members required to object to a state’s electoral votes, while requiring that those members stick to specified rationale when explaining their objections. Lofgren and Cheney are both members of the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and have been working on the proposal for months. A bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are negotiating similar legislation.
“Our proposal is intended to preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections by ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot steal from the people the guarantee that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed,” Lofgren and Cheney wrote Sunday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
One pager below + reminder this will be conferenced with the Senate version pic.twitter.com/7YLtMSUoRB
— Haley Talbot (@haleytalbotnbc) September 19, 2022
Lofgren and Cheney’s bill would mandate that at least one-third of both the House and the Senate sign onto an objection to a state’s elector slate before the objection can be considered. Currently, Congress considers an objection when one representative and one senator sign on. Further, members of Congress would only be able to object for five reasons outlined by the legislation, and would have to declare their rationale when objecting. Notably, alleged voter fraud is not one of the approved reasons.
The legislation also responds to claims from former President Donald Trump and his attorneys that a vice president may unilaterally decide to reject a state’s elector slate. Under the Presidential Election Reform Act, “the presiding officer shall not have any power to determine or otherwise resolve disputes concerning the proper list of electors for a State, the validity of electors for a State, or the votes of electors of a State.” (RELATED: REPORT: Jamie Raskin Wants To Use The Jan. 6 Committee To Blow Up The Electoral College)
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the legislation during a Tuesday hearing. If the bill passes the House, it will be conferenced with the Senate. Collins and Manchin’s Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act sets the objection threshold at one-fifth of both chambers. Ten Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley of Iowa, are co-sponsoring that bill.
Electoral vote tabulation is currently governed by the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Legal scholars and members of Congress have criticized the century-old law for its ambiguity, arguing that it should be updated and clarified.