ALI Group cited in ECA reform and modernization proposals

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ALI Group cited in ECA reform and modernization proposals

This week, two proposals have been tabled, which include legislation to reform and modernize the old Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes counted by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president.

Led by US Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the bipartisan group also includes Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). ‘

Upon exit:

“From the beginning, our bipartisan group shared a vision for drafting legislation to correct the flaws in the archaic and ambiguous Voter Count Act of 1887,” the senators said in a joint statement. “Through numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of electoral experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our electoral vote certification and counting system. for the president and the vice-president. We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, common sense reforms. »

In crafting the bills, the senators received input from state election officials, as well as an ideologically diverse group of election experts and legal scholars, including the American Law Institute. Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Rankings Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) also provided helpful insight.

“Debates about the political ‘rules of the game’ can be fraught with mistrust and maneuvering for advantage. When those rules change, there has to be buy-in from both parties to maintain trust in the system,” said Matthew Weil, executive director of the democracy program at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “This bipartisan Senate framework is a critical step to buttressing the ambiguities of the Voter Count Act. These senators, especially Senators Manchin and Collins, should be commended for finding common ground on an issue so fundamental to our democracy: faith in the system that selects our leaders.

“We are impressed with the Voter Count Act reform bill developed by a bipartisan Senate task force, including Senators Collins, Manchin, Romney and Murphy,” said Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, co-chairs of the presidential reform bill. “Our work on these reform issues, which included co-chairing an expert panel convened by the American Law Institute (ALI), convinced us that major improvements to the current law are both urgent and achievable. . We believe that the legislation as proposed will help reduce threats to future presidential elections that would erode the fundamental democratic principles of our country. He deserves wide support.

The first invoice, the Law on the reform of the electoral count and the improvement of the presidential transition, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Sinema, Romney, Shaheen, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Capito, Cardin, Young, Coons, Sasse and Graham. The bill includes the following provisions:

1) Law on the reform of the electoral count. This section would reform and modernize the old Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes counted by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president. It would replace the ambiguous provisions of the 19th century law with clear procedures that would maintain the appropriate state and federal roles in the selection of the President and Vice President of the United States, as set out in the US Constitution. Click HERE for a page on the Electoral Count Act reform section.

2) Presidential Transition Improvement Act. This section would help promote the orderly transfer of power by providing clear guidance on when eligible candidates for president or vice president can receive federal resources to support their transition to office. Click HERE for a page on the Presidential Transition section.

Click HERE for the text of the Law on the reform of the electoral count and the improvement of the presidential transition.

The second bill, the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Shaheen, Romney, Sinema, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Coons and Cardin. The bill includes the following provisions:

1) Tougher Penalties to Protect Our Elections Act. This section would double the penalty under federal law for people who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters or candidates. Under current law, threats of violence or intimidation against such persons are punishable by up to one year in prison. This sentence would be increased to a maximum of two years in prison.

2) Postal Service Election Improvement Act. This section is intended to improve the handling of election mail by the U.S. Postal Service and to provide guidance for states to improve their absentee ballot processes where state law permits.

3) Reauthorization of the Electoral Assistance Commission. This section would reauthorize the Electoral Assistance Commission (EAC) for 5 years and require the EAC to perform cybersecurity testing as part of its process for testing and certifying voting systems. Established by the Help America Pass the 2002 Act, the EAC is an independent agency that helps states improve the administration and security of federal elections. The EAC administers state grants and develops non-binding guidance and best practices for election officials in a variety of areas, including cybersecurity, election audits, and accessible voting. The authorization for the EAC, which is headed by two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, expired in fiscal year 2005, although the agency continued to receive annual appropriations for its operations.

4) Protection of Electoral Records Act. This section would clarify that current law requires that electronic voter records be retained. It would also increase existing maximum penalties for people who steal, destroy, conceal, mutilate or willfully alter voter records from $1,000 to $10,000 and from one year in prison to two years in prison. Moreover, it would be illegal to tamper with voting systems.

Click HERE for the text of the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act.

Read the full press release online here.

Background:

At the invitation of the leadership of the American Law Institute, a group whose members span a range of legal and political opinions met to consider possible reforms to the Voter Counting Act (ECA). Despite various legal, political, and ideological commitments, the group is united by the belief that Congress should reform the ECA before the 2024 presidential election. The group has agreed on several general principles that should guide the reform ECA, as well as specific proposals as to what ECA reform should aim to achieve. Read the group’s full set of principles here and read ALI’s press release here.

The members of the group, selected for their deep and varied experience in law and government, are:

  • Bob Bauer (NYU School of Law and former White House attorney) (co-chair)
  • Elise C. Boddie (Rutgers Law School and former director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
  • Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar (President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former Justice of the Supreme Court of California)
  • Courtney Simmons Elwood (former General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency)
  • Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School and former Assistant Attorney General, Office of General Counsel) (co-chair)
  • Larry Kramer (Chairman of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former Dean of Stanford Law School)
  • Don McGahn (Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and former White House attorney)
  • Michael B. Mukasey (former United States District Court Judge and former United States Attorney General)
  • Saikrishna Prakash (University of Virginia School of Law)
  • David Strauss (University of Chicago School of Law)

More detailed biographies are attached to the Statement of Principles for ECA Reform.

“The American Law Institute is proud to have convened this group and facilitated its important work,” said ALI President David F. Levi and ALI Director Richard L. Revesz. , in a joint statement. “Due to the need for rapid action, this project has not followed the typical ALI bicameral process, which requires approval from both our Board and members, and therefore cannot be considered as the official work of the Institute. Our support for this project nevertheless contributes to the rule of law, which is a key priority for ALI. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to this group for their critical and urgent work We would also like to thank ALI Legal Fellow Harry Larson and Professor Goldsmith’s excellent team of research assistants for their invaluable support of this project.

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