House Passes Bill to Correct Flaws in Certification of Presidential Elections

With support from a few Republicans, Wednesday’s House vote approved legislation to stop future attempts to overturn the presidential election.

The Presidential Election Reform Act, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) — two prominent members of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building — received 229 votes in its favor.

The bill had the support of virtually every Democrat, although one member of the caucus didn’t vote. Only nine Republican members of Congress voted for it, while 203 Republicans opposed.

Before the vote, Nancy Pelosi (D.California), Speaker of the House. described the bill as a “kitchen table issue for families,”He also pointed out that every citizen of the country depends upon the ability of lawmakers to respect election results.

“Denying the American people their fundamental freedom to choose their own leaders denies them their voice in the policies we pursue, and those policies can make tremendous difference in their everyday lives,” Pelosi said.

The bill proposes a variety of changes to the Electoral Count Acta 19th century law that governs how the Electoral College votes in Congress are certified. Some of the changes are meant to clarify what is known about the law and prevent lawmakers from exploiting any ambiguities.

The Presidential Election Reform Act, for example, would reiterate that the vice president’s role in the counting of votes is purely “ministerial.” In an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Trump had instructed his then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes in states he lost to now-President Joe Biden. According to the bill, such actions are explicitly illegal.

The bill also requires that a threshold number of lawmakers must be attained in each house before any challenges to the electors can take place. Currently, only one member from each house is needed to mount such challenges; under Lofgren’s and Cheney’s proposal, one-third of each house’s members would be required.

The bill explicitly states that schemes to produce fake electors in order to disrupt or confuse the certification process — like that of Trump and his campaign — would be illegal. It would also require that “a single, accurate certificate from each state” be submitted for counting, and make it illegal for fake electors to submit additional phony certificates.

The bill will likely garner some bipartisan support in the Senate, though it’s unclear whether it can get the 10 Republican votes needed to defeat a likely filibuster. There are is currently a competing piece of legislation being negotiated by members of the SenateThis also seeks the updating of the Electoral Count Act.

Members of the team that negotiated this bill have indicated hesitancy about supporting the House-passed version.

“I much prefer our bill,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

However, some provisions in the Senate bill are less than those in the House bill. The Senate legislation has a lower threshold for how many lawmakers are needed to formally challenge states’ electors, requiring just one-fifth of legislators from both houses to do so.

That threshold was nearly reached during the last Electoral College certification — 147 Republicans voted against the certification of Biden’s winIn many states in 2021, this is more than one-fourth to the total number in Congress.

Although the Senate had a smaller number, the Senate reached the one fifth threshold that Collins and the other senators proposed during the certification procedure in the House. However, the number was still below the one-third threshold suggested in Lofgren’s and Cheney’s bill.