Progress on the Electoral Count Act

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We won the first round! UUSJ helped push to proposal the Electoral Count Act.

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice made a difference.

Review the ECA Expert Opinion Briefing (Video)

Last week UUSJ saw a victory and noteworthy progress towards a legislative goal, we want to highlight for you.

On July 20, 2022, Senator Collin (R-ME) announced (press release) on behalf of a group of bipartisan Senators the introduction of the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act (Act), no bill number yet, to reform and modernize the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

This proposal contains provisions that UUSJ has advocated for in numerous meetings with Senate offices, led by our Democracy Action Team volunteers and joined by UUs from across the United States. This comes after the devastating dereliction of duty and failed vote on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act in late January.

Here is a quick overview of what we won in the first round of advocacy:

  1. The Act clarifies the purely ceremonial role of the Vice President. Subsection 109 of the Act clarifies that the vice president merely presides over the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes.
  2. The Act would raise the threshold for lodging an objection and limit the grounds for objecting to slates of electors. Subsection 109 of the Act would raise the threshold to lodge an objection to the certification of a state’s electors to at least one-fifth of the members of both the House and Senate, rather than simply one member from each chamber. Another small but important improvement found in Subsection 109 makes it less likely that there would be no candidate who obtained a majority of all electors.
  3. The Act would prevent submission of alternative slates of electors and provide expedited but limited judicial review. Section 104 of the proposed Act would take steps to prevent the confusion and chaos that can arise through the submission of alternative slates of electors. It makes clear that a State’s Governor, or the official enumerated in a state constitution, is the only person authorized to issue a certificate of ascertainment of electors.
  4. The Act gets rid of the troublesome concept of a “failed election.” Section 102 of the Act makes clear that electors “shall be appointed on election day, in accordance with the laws of the State enacted prior to election day.” The Act also contains, in Title II, provisions designed to insure that, in situations where there is a legitimate dispute as to the winner of a presidential election, both candidates will get financial assistance and assistance from Executive Branch agencies during the transition period prior to January 20.

You can see our unabridged preliminary evaluation of the ECA proposal, for more detail on each item.

Our Thanks & Our ASK

Michael, UUSJ expects to engage in various ways throughout the process. We thank you for taking the ECA action, but we need to see an avalanche of principled concern for ECA reform, and for that, we need you to spread the word — now!

As of this moment, just over 600 of you have taken the action, if all of us get our UU friends to join us, it’d be a noteworthy expression of our principled concern to our federal legislators.

At this juncture, we ask you to:

  • Invite your UU friends to take the ECA action
  • Review our video to educate yourself about the issue (button), and
  • Consider a donation to further the work.

This may not be the last time we ask you to act for the passage of an ECA proposal, but it is what the circumstance calls for at this moment.