House passes electoral count update aimed at preventing another Jan. 6

Credit: NYT

Credit: NYT

Georgia’s delegation split along party lines with all Democrats in favor, GOP members opposed

WASHINGTON — A measure that would update the process Congress uses to count electoral votes and confirm the outcome of presidential elections moved forward in the U.S. House.

Democrats and many Republicans say they want to get a new law on the books before Congress adjourns later this year. Their goal is to ensure that the next counting of electoral votes in January 2025 is not exploited in the same manner as 2021 when then-President Donald Trump and his allies challenged Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia and other swing states.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland who is a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, said the violence of that day necessitated an update of the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

“Former President Trump was told there was no ambiguity by his own vice president and attorney general of the United States and yet insisted there was some wiggle room for the vice president to step outside of his assigned constitutional role and simply declare the Electoral College votes of certain states including Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania null and void and returning them to the legislatures of those states for undefined further action,” Raskin said. “All of that is clearly outside the history of the Electoral College and what is contemplated; we clarify that in this legislation.”

The measure, called the Presidential Election Reform Act, passed the House 229-203 Wednesday and included the support of every Democrat and nine Republican lawmakers who are either retiring or lost their primaries this year. Georgia’s delegation split strictly along party lines.

The legislation would fix ambiguities regarding the role of the vice president in counting electoral votes while also making it harder to challenge the certification of results from individual states. It also makes it clear that governors can only send one certified list of electoral votes from their states, addressing the “fake electors” scheme that was attempted in Georgia and other battleground states.

The Senate’s version is similar but a bit more streamlined, and members in that chamber said the proposal already has the bipartisan support needed to avoid a filibuster. The Senate Rules Committee meets Tuesday to discuss the legislation.

Georgia U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk was among the Republicans who spoke out against the bill on the House floor Wednesday. Loudermilk gave tours in the Capitol complex in the days prior to Jan. 6 that included at least one person who was filmed outside the building during the insurrection. Loudermilk said he did nothing wrong.

During Wednesday’s debate, Loudermilk said he opposed the legislation not because of what it does but because he did not think Republicans had been involved enough in drafting it. The bill’s primary sponsors are U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming. Both are members of the Jan. 6 select committee.

“I agree that we should clarify some of the mechanisms of the act, and I certainly agree that we should be working to prevent another breach of security of this Capitol as we saw on Jan. 6,” said Loudermilk, a Cassville Republican. “With all that said, we can’t afford a one-sided, no-compromises discussion crafted by a partisan select committee which is what we’re being presented with this bill.”


HOW THEY VOTED ON HR 8873, the Presidential Election Reform Act

“Yes”

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta

“No”

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler

U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton