Bipartisan bill proposes electoral reforms to prevent another Jan. 6

The House January 6th Committee hearings have unearthed evidence and witness testimony revealing who participated in the violent January 6th insurrection and how close the nation came to a constitutional crisis.

Now as the Committee holds its eighth hearing on Thursday, with testimony from White House aides, the impact of the committee's investigation is beginning to surface.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group led by Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, announced an Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 to close loopholes in the current Electoral Count Law from 1876.

"The election of 1876 was a disaster. The Electoral Count Act was passed after that so that Congress could ensure that state elections was clean," said Sean Gailmard, UC Berkeley professor of political science.
Professor Gailmard says that 1876 law contained many loopholes, though, that were exposed on January 6th.

He says one major loophole was identified by President Trump and his supporters who tried to create a separate slate of state electors not based on the official election results.

The new bill says unless states say otherwise, only governors can certify state electors.

"So it removes this layer of ambiguity as to who can play the role in this process," said Gailmard.

Another loophole, uncovered by the January 6th Committee was the controversial assertion that the Vice-President of the United States has power to block the certification of electoral votes.

The new bill states the Vice-President cannot determine electors.

"One of the goals of the reform is to clarify that the Vice-President's role is purely ministerial," said Gailmard.

A third reform deals with the number of congressional members needed to object to election results.

"One of the loopholes was it required only one Senator and one Representative to challenge the electors from any given state," said Gailmard.

The reform bill says objections would require 20% of the house and the 20% of the senate.

A fourth reform says state legislatures cannot overturn popular votes by declaring  a "failed election."

Professor Gailmard says while reform is needed, even if the bill passes, the reforms can still be challenged by future presidents claiming to exert executive power.

"There's an inherent problem in using a law to close up every loophole, and some will still remain, however, but it will be useful for any potential problem...for Congress to take a clear stand," said Gailmard.