The House Has Passed an Election Law Overhaul in Response to the January 6 Insurrection

Daniella Cressman

"The House has passed legislation to overhaul the rules for certifying the results of a presidential election as lawmakers accelerate their response to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and Donald Trump’s failed attempt to remain in power." —Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press)

The bill would overhaul the Electoral Count Act that governs how states and Congress certify electors and declare election winners.

"The bill, which is similar to bipartisan legislation moving through the Senate, would overhaul an arcane 1800s-era statute known as the Electoral Count Act that governs, along with the U.S. Constitution, how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential election winners." —Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press)

Donald Trump, along with his aides and lawyers, attempted to exploit loopholes in the law—unsuccessfully—in 2020. The Democrats are pushing to pass the bill ahead of the 2024 election cycle as the former President is considering another run for office.

"While that process has long been routine and ceremonial, Trump and a group of his aides and lawyers unsuccessfully tried to exploit loopholes in the law in an attempt to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Democrats are pushing to pass the bill before the end of the year and ahead of the 2024 election cycle as Trump is considering another run. While at least 10 GOP senators have signed on to the Senate version, the House vote fell mostly along party lines. House Republicans — most of whom are still aligned with Trump — argued that the legislation shouldn’t be a priority and that it is a political vehicle for Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections." —Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press)

In short, this bill would make it nearly impossible for this country to experience a replay of the 2020 insurrection.

"The bill would clarify in the law that the vice president’s role presiding over the count is only ceremonial and that he or she cannot change the results. It also sets out that each state can only send one certified set of electors after Trump’s allies had unsuccessfully tried to put together alternate slates of illegitimate pro-Trump electors in swing states where Biden won. 'This bill will make it harder to convince people that they have the right to overthrow an election,' [Zoe] Lofgren said. The legislation would increase the threshold for individual lawmakers’ objections to any state’s electoral votes, requiring a third of the House and a third of the Senate to object to trigger votes on the results in both chambers. Currently, only one lawmaker in the House and one lawmaker in the Senate has to object. The House bill would set out very narrow grounds for those objections, an attempt to thwart baseless or politically motivated challenges. In addition, the bill would require courts to get involved if state or local officials want to delay a presidential vote or refuse to certify the results." —Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press)

The Senate committee is expected to vote on this bill next week.

"The House vote comes as the Senate is moving on a similar track with enough Republican support to virtually ensure passage before the end of the year. After months of talks, House Democrats introduced their legislation Monday and held the quick vote two days later in order to send the bill across the Capitol and start to resolve differences. A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation this summer and a Senate committee is expected to vote on it next week. While the House bill is more expansive than the Senate version, the two bills cover similar ground and members in both chambers are optimistic that they can work out the differences. And despite the mostly party-line vote in the House, supporters are encouraged by the bipartisan effort in the Senate." —Mary clare Jalonick (Associated Press)

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