Congress must not miss the chance to reform the Electoral Count Act (The Hill)

THE HILL | It was Jan. 6, and a United States Senator and a member of the House of Representatives had just issued a formal challenge to the electoral votes from one state — halting congressional ratification of the presidential election results. It was nearly unprecedented, and turned a civilized ceremony into what one publication referred to as “a political and historical drama.”

This moment in time was not Jan. 6, 2021, as one might assume, but rather Jan. 6, 2005. I was the Senate Majority Leader, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) had just launched an objection to President George W. Bush’s reelection, claiming Ohio’s results were tainted. 

While this challenge was rightly voted down, and President Bush’s victory certified, it set an unfortunate precedent where each party has begun to exploit ambiguities in the 1887 Electoral Count Act. This 136-year-old law established the process by which Congress certifies presidential elections, and while effective for a century, vague language in its drafting has led to challenges that increasingly undermine public confidence in our elections.

Despite extreme partisanship in the Capitol today, this is an area where both sides of the aisle agree: The Electoral Count Act must be modernized and dangerous loopholes that threaten the organized transfer of power in our democracy must be addressed. 

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