July 20, 2022

Manchin, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Reforms to Electoral Count Act of 1887

Washington, DC Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led a group of bipartisan Senators in introducing the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887. The legislation comes after months of bipartisan negotiations and will ensure the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President and will promote a peaceful transition of power between the outgoing and incoming President.

Senators Manchin and Capito were joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), 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), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“From the beginning, our bipartisan group has shared a vision of drafting legislation to fix the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral 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 election experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President.  We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, commonsense reforms.”

The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act includes the following provisions:

1) Electoral Count Reform Act: This section would reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President. It would replace ambiguous provisions of the 19th-century law with clear procedures that maintain appropriate state and federal roles in selecting the President and Vice President of the United States as set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

2) Presidential Transition Improvement Act: This section would help to promote the orderly transfer of power by providing clear guidelines for when eligible candidates for President or Vice President may receive federal resources to support their transition into office.

In developing the bills, the Senators received input from state election officials as well as from an ideologically diverse group of election experts and legal scholars, including the American Law Institute. Additionally, Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) provided helpful insight. 

“Debates over the political ‘rules of the game’ can be fraught with suspicion and jockeying for advantage. When these rules change, there must 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 for shoring up ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act. These senators, especially Sens. Manchin and Collins, should be commended for finding common ground on a matter that is so foundational to our democracy: faith in the system that selects our leaders.”

“We are impressed with the draft Electoral Count Act reform legislation developed by a bipartisan Senate working group, including Senators Collins, Manchin, Romney, and Murphy,” said Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, co-chairs of the Presidential Reform Project.  “Our work on these reform issues, which has included co-chairing a group of experts convened by the American Law Institute (ALI), has convinced us that major improvements in the current law are both urgent and achievable. We believe the legislation as proposed will help curtail threats to future presidential elections that would erode the foundational democratic principles of our country. It merits broad support.”

A one-pager on the Electoral Count Reform Act is available here.
A one-pager on the Presidential Transition Improvement Act is available here