Demand Progress

Reform the Electoral Count Act!

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    Reform the Electoral Count Act!

    Petition to Congress:
    We urge you to introduce and pass legislation to reform the antiquated Electoral Count Act of 1887 as soon as possible -- and without side deals that undermine other crucial voting rights bills! Legislation cutting off all pathways to overturning a legitimate election is absolutely essential to protect our democracy.

    It was one year ago that Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, committing acts of violence, espousing white supremacy, and perpetuating the Big Lie that the election result was anything but a conclusive victory for President Biden.

    Now Trump appears to be laying the groundwork for potential efforts to upend future election results. A recent New York Times headline reads: "In Bid for Control of Elections, Trump Loyalists Face Few Obstacles."

    Unless Congress takes action, the far right may be able to try and manipulate an outdated law at the heart of the January 6 insurrection after the next presidential election. We can't let that happen.

    Sign the petition: The Electoral Count Act, the 140-year-old law that governs certification of presidential elections, must be reformed!

    Thanks in part to a memo written by Trump lawyer John Eastman, and a powerpoint presentation leaked by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, we now know some of the most outrageous details of Donald Trump's January 2021 coup attempt.1

    That fraudulent plan sought to exploit the outdated Electoral Count Act, the law that governs how Congress certifies presidential elections. Trump's plan to overturn the 2020 election rested on the absurd idea that state legislatures should choose new electors after citizens have cast their votes in several key states, overriding the will of the people.

    Trump's plan was to get GOP legislatures in a handful of states to repudiate the election results and substitute presidential electors for Trump — and then secure support from a combination of Vice President Mike Pence, Congress, and perhaps the Supreme Court.

    Trump's scheme was totally outrageous — and was relatively far-fetched given the politics of that time. But new reporting does indicate that at least one state's (Pennsylvania) Republican lawmakers were considering taking his side and trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.2 If Pennsylvania sided with him, Trump's team hoped others would follow suit.

    With an increasingly anti-democratic bent in the Republican Party and more loyalists in place in key positions, a future effort seems more likely to succeed — and any vulnerabilities in the law that make that more plausible need to be fixed immediately.

    The Congressional committee responsible for investigating the events of January 6th is reportedly working on recommendations for legislation reforming the Electoral Count Act right now.3 It's essential that the committee introduce strong and clear legislation, and that Congress pass it as soon as possible. We can't risk another attack on our democracy.

    Sign the petition: The Select Committee on January 6th should introduce legislation reforming the Electoral Count Act as soon as possible!

    1. CNN, "Trump lawyer's memo on six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election," September 21, 2021.
    2. The Atlantic, "How Donald Trump Could Subvert the 2024 Election," December 6, 2021.
    3. The New York Times, "Fearing a Repeat of Jan. 6, Congress Eyes Changes to Electoral Count Law," December 4, 2021.