Since the January 6th incident at the US Capitol, the Democrats, with the help of a few alleged Republicans such as Representative Liz Cheney, used the day to spread the idea that white supremacy and racism were thriving once again in America. Not only are Trump supporters supposedly racist, but they are now labeled as domestic terrorists. The domestic terrorist title was also given to concerned parents who questioned the subject material being taught to their children.
Still suggesting that the Capitol Hill incident was somehow comparable to the attack on 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, the House passed the Presidential Election Reform Act (H.R. 8873) that hopes to change how the Electoral College certifies the votes.
Written by both Representative Liz Cheney and Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, the bill hopes to stop events like January 6th from ever happening again. If the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is amended, it would “prevent other future unlawful efforts to overturn Presidential elections and to ensure future peaceful transfers of Presidential power.”
According to the H.R. 8873, there are rather innocuous changes to some legal jargon surrounding the “Timing of Appointing Electors” and some expanded clarification on “Permitting Extension of Time for Presidential Election in Event of Catastrophic Event Potentially Affecting Outcome” (i.e., instances where there’s a significant natural disaster or terror attack, etc.).
One critical piece of existing law that the Presidential Election Reform Act would repeal is 3 U.S. Code § 5, dubbed “Determination of controversy as to appointment of electors.”
The legal jargon contained within 3 U.S. Code § 5 is a bit much to digest, but Daniel P. Tokaji of Ohio State University Moritz College of Law explained it simply back in 2008 as “a state can be assured of having its chosen slate of electors recognized only if post-election disputes are resolved within thirty-five days of Election Day.”
Basically, in the event there’s a dispute among electors in a state that exceeds 35 days, current federal law greases the wheels for Congress to decide which slate of electoral votes to count – but the Presidential Election Reform Act will completely remove that possible scenario from the equation.
But the biggest impact this legislation would have is the designation of the Vice President’s role as “ministerial” with respect to being the presiding officer of the joint meeting of Congress – a.k.a., the counting of electoral votes that occurs on January 6th.
Per the language featured in H.R. 8873, the sitting Vice President will simply be present at the counting of the electoral votes on January 6th as more of a ceremonial aspect, rather than having any kind of authority to challenge a state’s slate of electors or votes rendered.
“The role of the presiding officer is ministerial. Except with respect to the procedures described in this section, the presiding officer shall not have any power to determine or otherwise resolve disputes concerning the proper list of electors for a State, the validity of electors for a State, or the votes of electors of a State. Except as provided for in this section, the presiding officer shall not order any delay in counting or preside over any period of delay in counting electoral votes.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained on the House floor, “Let me be clear. This is a kitchen table issue for families, and we must make sure this anti-democratic plot cannot succeed. It’s a kitchen table issue because denying the American people their fundamental freedom to choose their own leaders, denies them their voice in the policies we pursue, and those policies can make tremendous difference in their everyday lives.”
Giving a statement on the bill, Liz Cheney said, “Legal challenges are not improper, but Donald Trump’s refusal to abide by the rulings of the courts certainly was. In our system of government, elections in the states determine who is the president. Our bill does not change that. But this bill will prevent Congress from illegally choosing the president itself.” She added, “This bill is a very important and crucial bill to ensure that what happened on January 6 never happens again.”
Not all Republicans were thrilled as Representative Rodney Davis warned, “The midterm elections are just weeks away, and Democrats in the 1/6 committee are desperately trying to talk about their favorite topic, and that is former President Trump.”