The defeat of Democratic voter rights legislation might lead to significant progress in electoral integrity.
The Senate’s attempt to amend filibuster regulations in a manner that would have allowed Democrats to pass voter rights legislation without requiring more than 60 votes, was defeated on Wednesday. President Joe Biden had earlier supported this course of action. Because Republicans remain in complete opposition, the vote bill as it stands is also doomed.
Biden appeared to suggest that any person who doesn’t support his Freedom to Vote Act bill was “on the side” of historical segregationists, like Bull Connor or George Wallace, in a speech in Atlanta. Biden warned lawmakers that history has not been kind to people who favor voter suppression over voting rights. It will not be kind to those who support election subversion. Let me ask all elected officials in America, “How would you like to be remembered?”
This argument would suggest that a bill failing to pass would be catastrophic for voting rights. However, the defeat of the bill has brought about a potentially better development.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives are looking at modifications to the Electoral Count Act. This 1887 law details how Congress certifies and counts presidential electors’ votes. Act dictates that each state’s vote must be read out by the president of Senate, who is also the U.S. Vice President. Congress will then count the votes and certify the winner. The act doesn’t explicitly state that the role of the vice president is ceremonial and has no power to change an election’s outcome. Former President Donald Trump and his acolytes seized upon this vagueness when they tried to pressure then–Vice President Mike Pence to either decline to certify the results, or else simply pick a different slate of electors in enough swing states to tip the election to Trump.
Legislators from both sides are now considering changes to the Electoral Count Act, both in the Senate as well as the House. CNN reports that six Republican senators plan to hold talks about the law, “with the goal of clarifying how electoral votes are counted.” Sen. Joe Manchin (D–W.Va.Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a moderate whose opposition to filibuster reform was defeated, said to CNN that changes to the Electoral Count Act might help to reduce confusion which ultimately lead to false hopes, and the violent storming of the Capitol that day.
In the meantime, the Committee on House Administration issued a report outlining possible modifications to the act. This report suggests that senators and representatives should be able to object to voting counts at a lower threshold, as well as giving states additional time to resolve disputes prior to certifying electoral votes. Andy Craig, Cato Institute’s director of policy and communications, has made numerous suggestions for lawmakers in the past. He has also written about them. extensivelyHe says that reform of the Electoral Count Act is urgently required to prevent future constitutional crises.
Although Democrats are urging for reform of voting rights legislation, the proposed bills they have introduced will not be able to make a difference. The bills don’t address the root causes of rioters who tried to undermine the election results for 2020. This is the best and most effective way to tackle these problems. We hope that Republicans and Democrats will agree at the very least on this.