Late last night, I was getting a little long-winded about how both parties suck so bad, even if the GOP is much worse, that I left off the ending, so... without further ado, let's bring on Greg Sargent with a new plan to "Trump-proof" the 2024 election. Wouldn't that make you relax a bit? Make you cancel plans to move to another country? Buy a semi-automatic weapon? Sargent's sources tell him senators are close to completing a bill to revise the Electoral Count Act of 1887, meant to fix the ambiguities in the act that "Trump directly exploited" in his attempted coup to cling to power even though he lost relatively massively:
Biden- 81,268,924 (51.3%)-- 306 electoral votes
Señor Trumpanzee- 74,2116,154 (46.9%)-- 232 electoral votes
Maine's conservative independent, Angus King, is the chief sponsor. His co-sponsors are Amy Klobuchar and Dick Durbin and they won't rereleasing it until after the voting rights denouement, the idea being to not "defuse energy toward that paramount goal."
King, who caucuses with the Democrats: "It’s very important to emphasize that this is not a solution to the voting rights issues being raised across the country." OK, so how does it Trump-proof the election. Let's get to the point, Sargent.
The bill seeks to block every pathway to a subverted election that Trump’s corruption exposed. There are three main ones. First, Trump pressured GOP state legislatures to appoint rogue presidential electors in defiance of state popular votes.
Second, Trump got dozens of congressional Republicans to try to invalidate electors legitimately appointed by swing states. Third, Trump pressed his vice president to abuse his largely ceremonial role to declare legitimate electors invalid.
Blocking these pathways raises a thorny problem. The drafters of the bill want to make it harder for members of Congress to invalidate-- based on false claims of election fraud-- a legitimate slate of electors from a state.
But they want to accomplish this without making it harder for Congress to invalidate a phony slate appointed by a rogue legislature and/or governor.
Here’s the solution they hit upon, according to King’s office.
Under the current ECA, it takes only a single member from each chamber to object to a slate of electors. After this, a majority in each chamber must sustain the objection to ensure those electors don’t get counted.
So the new bill would require a much larger bloc of members in each chamber to initiate an objection; drafters may set this at one-third. It would also require a supermajority in each chamber to sustain the objection; drafters may set this at three-fifths.
So if, say, Republicans in Congress simply refused to count a slate of legitimate electors for the Democratic candidate, they would need supermajorities to pull it off.
But what if a GOP-controlled state legislature and/or governor appointed fake electors in defiance of the voting? Under the current ECA, a GOP-controlled House and Senate could overrule any Democratic objection and theoretically count those electors.
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So the bill creates backstops. First, it seeks to create a procedure for judicial review when a state government fails to follow its own lawful, preexisting procedures in appointing electors (in all states, this process is tied to the popular vote).
Second, the bill directs Congress to count the electors validated by the court and not the phony ones appointed by a state legislature and/or governor in that situation.
“The key point is that the state can’t change the rules after the election,” King told me. All of this reduces Congress’s role to the largely ceremonial counting of electors.
Finally, the bill clarifies the vice president’s role to unequivocally remove any power to make any decree about whether electors will be counted.
This would help “Trump-proof” future presidential elections, making it harder to pull off precisely the scheme Trump attempted after the 2020 vote.
It’s crucial to stress that ECA ambiguities undoubtedly helped spark Jan. 6. The very idea that the ECA left open these avenues helped inspire rioters to attack the Capitol, to pressure lawmakers and Trump’s vice president to exploit them.
Will 10 Republican senators support these reforms? They are not liable to typical GOP objections to democratic protections, such as the (phony) arguments that they aren’t needed or constitute the federal government trampling on states.
This would merely revise an existing statute to make it even less likely that Trump (or an imitator) would successfully pressure Republicans to carry out the same scheme again. Which would make it less likely to be attempted at all.
Isn’t that something Republicans want? Maybe. Punchbowl News reports that four GOP senators-- Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Roger Wicker of Mississippi-- have been generally discussing ECA reform.
But this may be a bait and switch, designed to make it easier for Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to refuse to suspend the filibuster to protect voting rights by invoking the promise of bipartisan reform later. Once voting rights crashes, Republicans might suddenly lose interest in ECA reform.
But King said he’s determined to try to win Republicans. “I can’t count 10 Republicans right now, but I don’t think it’s unlikely,” King told me. “I see this as more of a bipartisan issue.”
If not, will Manchin and Sinema oppose a filibuster carve-out for even this no-brainer of a reform to avert a stolen 2024? We may soon find out.
By the way, there were 4 special elections yesterday-- an open congressional seat in Florida, won by Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormack, and 3 state legislative seats, won by Jackie Glass (D-Virginia), Lydia Edwards (D-Massachusetts) and James Boyle (D-Maine). Very good way to start the election cycle. (Sheila beat a gaggle of establishment Democrats in the primary.)