1 February 2022

Note from Norm: Reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887

The most important issue facing American voters today is not election reform. Americans are a lot more focused on the price of gas at the pump and meat at the grocery (inflation); car jackings and record homicide rates; crisis at the border, and Americans still trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan-than they are about whether we should federalize elections.

Yet the Democrats would have us believe that so-called election reform is so critical that we should upend the rules of the Senate-rules that ensure that the 50.1% (the size of the Democratic majority in the Senate) cannot totally disregard the concerns of the 49.9% of Americans who don’t support the Democrat’s efforts to federalize election laws.

And no, opposition to an unconstitutional power grab is not racist and discriminatory.

In fact, states with some of the most restrictive voting laws are states dominated by Democrats. Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland and New York have far greater restrictions on voting, than are found in recent election law legislation in places such as Georgia.

Rhode Island has a had a voter ID law in place for more than a decade – New Jersey and New York have 9 days of in person voting – while Georgia has 17.

And the Democrat attack on the use of the filibuster put a check on an unconstitutional power grab, labelling it as a racist Jim Crow tactic- is fraught with hypocrisy. In 2017, when the Democrats were in the minority in the Senate, 31 Democrat Senators penned a letter stating that the filibuster was critical to ensuring that Senate “continues to serve as the world’s greatest deliberative body”.

Twenty-seven of those Democratic signers still serve in the Senate-and one other is now Vice President Kamala Harris.

Yet amid the brutal partisan divide we face in this nation, there is an election reform measure that has bipartisan support-cleaning up the ambiguity of an 1887 electoral count law.

The 1887 Electoral Count Act is 135 years old and badly in need of reform.  And, despite initial pushback from Democrats, it does appear as though there is a growing chorus of bipartisan voices saying the act needs to be fixed and clarified.

The Act, which stood at the center of the conflict between former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, leaves far too much ambiguity to allow to it continue as it currently exists.  While the Vice President’s decision not to intervene was based on firm Constitutional grounds, it would behoove the country to eliminate any interpretations of the law that might create a similar environment we faced in the last election in future ones.

Those calling for reforms focus on two main areas which need to be amended:

  • Raising the threshold for objections to Electors beyond just a single United States Senator and U.S. House Member
  • Making it crystal clear that the role of the Vice President in the Electoral Count process is nothing more than ceremonial

Democrats, who have been hammering Republicans for not supporting their federalization of our nation’s elections, were initially resistant to these changes.

The irony should not be lost on any American as to their objections.

The Democrat’s current “election reform initiative” has become a hyper-partisan battering ram to clobber any Republican who doesn’t conform to their view of how elections should be conducted in America.

Even though the Founders envisioned states having the last word as to how elections would be conducted in their states (read Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 59!). Democrats want to send that power to the federal government.  Democrats voiced objections to Republicans who called for reforms to the Electoral Count Act, saying that such reforms would only happen if Republicans agreed to their intrusive and false election “reforms.”

GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has expressed support for looking at reforming the law, as has Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who said:

“As I’ve said before, I think it needs fixing, and I wish them well, and I’d be happy to take a look at whatever they come up with…I just encourage the discussion because I think it clearly is flawed. This is directly related to what happened on January 6, and we ought to figure out a bipartisan way to fix this.”

As I wrote recently, Democrats and the One-Party Media (OPM) that parrots their party line, have been spouting falsehoods for more than a year about Republican efforts to strengthen our nation’s election laws at a state level.  Democrat claims that such reforms are tantamount to voter suppression has strong allies in the OPM, which simply repeats their distortions and misrepresentations nearly verbatim.

I’m cautiously optimistic that Democrats in Congress will see the value of reforming the 1887 Electoral Count Act as a way to strengthen that aspect of the nation’s election laws that the Founders empowered Congress to oversee.

Without changes to the law there may continue to be abuses of an act which, quite simply, lays out the process for how electoral votes would be counted – and not much else.

Let’s be clear about something else, as well.  It wasn’t just Republicans in the last Presidential Election that were trying to leverage the ambiguity of the act for their own purposes.  In 2005 Democrats did much the same in objecting to the votes for George W. Bush from Ohio as they did in 2001 for Bush for votes from the State of Florida.

It’s time to stop both political parties from using the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to serve their own partisan purposes and tighten up the language to make it perfectly clear.

The fact is, based upon recent polling from POLITICO/Morning Consult, fifty-five percent of the nation’s voters support reforming the Electoral Count Act.

Now Congress must, as well.

It’s time to make sure we count the votes submitted by each state and approve the result-and show American voters that Congress can actually get something done.

Its time for both sides of the aisle in Congress to show that they can actually work together to fix something that should be fixed. It’s a humble but necessary step to begin to bridge the partisan divide.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.