Politicians on both sides of the aisle have pursued legislation meant to address perceived inadequacies in the nation’s election laws.
This week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that he would be willing to consider a Democratic proposal aimed at changing the way Congress certifies presidential elections.
“It’s worth discussing,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to the Washington Examiner.
Anniversary of Jan. 6 riot
The timing and location of his remarks on Wednesday were notable in that they came on the day before the first anniversary of a riot on that location that broke out in response to the certification of the 2020 election results.
In total, eight Senate Republicans and 139 House Republicans moved to object to President Joe Biden’s presumed victories in multiple states, though he was ultimately certified as the winner.
Some progressives have since used that GOP opposition to argue that it was Republican officials who encouraged the Jan. 6 protest-turned-riot.
A year later, the left is trying to pass a partisan plan that would overhaul the rules and essentially put the election results in the federal government’s hands. Republicans have largely rejected any such proposal.
“Opens the door for Congress”
McConnell’s recent comments suggest at least a willingness to consider some of those controversial proposals.
Specifically, he referred to the Electoral Count Act and changes he would recommend making to it.
Some on the right have supported various changes to the legislation, including the Cato Institute, which said the act as written “opens the door for Congress to effectively decide the results of an election, something the Framers specifically rejected at the Constitutional Convention.”
Among the ambiguities currently in dispute by officials in both parties is the role of the vice president, who is tasked with overseeing the electoral count. Former President Donald Trump urged his vice president to reject electors in a number of states, but Mike Pence refused to do so because he did not believe he had that authority.
One aspect of the Electoral Count Act, therefore, seeks to clarify what the vice president’s role is in the process and what his or her limitations are. It remains to be seen whether this legislation has a measurable impact on the way elections are conducted on the federal level.