Senate

Collins underscores need to reform Electoral Count Act: ‘Peaceful transfer of power shouldn’t require heroes’

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) underscored the need to reform a 1887 election law which details how the Electoral College vote is formally counted by Congress, saying that the “peaceful transfer of power shouldn’t require heroes” in an op-ed published in The New York Times on Friday.

Collins, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is leading efforts among a bipartisan group of 16 senators to reform the Electoral Count Act. Collins and others last month acknowledged that they were discussing changes to the 1887 election law a year after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and tried to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential results. 

Former President Trump pushed former Vice President Mike Pence not to certify the results, though Pence has said that he did not have the authority to do so. In light of those events, the Maine senator said that she wanted the role of the vice president in the formal counting process to be clarified. 

“The ambiguously phrased Electoral Count Act must be amended to make absolutely clear that a vice president cannot manipulate or ignore electoral votes as he or she presides over this joint session of Congress. But other flaws in the law must also be remedied,” Collins wrote on Friday.

“For instance, the law’s threshold for triggering a challenge to the results of a state is far too low: Only one representative and one senator are required to object to a state’s electors. In the past, members on both sides of the aisle have challenged the vote without any real evidence of wrongdoing,” she added.

But Collins said that lawmakers had to be careful about how they crafted the piece of legislation in order to prevent “partisan provisions.”

“We have to be careful about expanding a reform bill to include provisions that go well beyond correcting the current law, strengthening election security and protecting poll workers from threats of violence,” the Republican senator wrote. “Relitigating bills that have already been rejected won’t get us to the finish line. Our primary focus must be on avoiding another Jan. 6 by reforming the Electoral Count Act.”

The Maine Republican also took the opportunity to rebuke Trump, saying that both he and his allies “exploited the weaknesses of the law and ignored the language of the Constitution.”

While she noted that “Pence’s courage and integrity” on Jan. 6 “cannot be overstated,” she argued that “the peaceful transfer of power shouldn’t require heroes.”

Collins, who was one of seven Republican senators who voted to impeach Trump last year, has been criticized by the former president, including in a statement he issued on Monday in which he called her “absolutely atrocious.”

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Electoral Count Act jan. 6 riot Joe Biden Joe Manchin Joe Manchin Mike Pence Susan Collins Susan Collins
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