Cato, Guide to Electoral Count Act Reform

The Cato Institute has issued a Policy Analysis paper by Andy Craig, How to Pick a President, A Guide to Electoral Count Act Reform, 24 pages, #931, June 28, 2022, main link.

The Cornell Law School gives a link to the current Act (Electoral Count Act of 1887 here. Wikipedia offers a rather detailed article here.

Craig establishes several principles in reform: constitutional compliance, clarity and simplicity, state autonomy, judicial deference, limited congressional and vice-presidential role, avoiding bottlenecks, and better timeline (for example not counting electors until Jan. 2).

On p. 6, the paper starts with a Model Template, in nine sections: selection of electors, conditions authorizing later elector selection, certification of electors, meeting and voting of electors, joint sessions of Congress, challenges, multiple certificates, contingent elections (when there is no winner of the electoral count), and parliamentary authority. There are limitations on the challenges that can be entered. On the last section, the author insists that the act must specify that the Vice President have no discretionary power. 

On p. 15, the writer provides an Appendix A, citing two sections:  Article II of the United States Constitution, and the Twelfth Amendment.  On p. 16, the writer starts his Model Draft Statute with its nine sections, running to page 20.  The text of the new statute is considerably longer and more detailed than the original.

By way of comparison, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has proposed a “Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act” as well as an “Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act”, link (also pdf1, pdf2).

The text of Sen. Tillis’s proposal is shorter but generally sounds reasonable.  The Vice-President’s role remains ministerial.  The submission of a slate of electors must be the responsibility of the governor (unless state law allows certain exceptions).  There is a higher objection threshold standard for objections, and there is explicit protection of a state’s popular vote.

Cato would do well to reformat and offer the Policy Analysis paper as a short book on Amazon (Or Barned and Noble or bookstores) or download to Kindle/Nook, in order to achieve more attention to this urgent matter.  It could include response to Tillis or other proposals.  It would seem vital to pass a reform act this fall before the November 8 midterm “exam” elections.

PBS had reported on a bipartisan deal June 15.

Joe Manchin (D-WVa) introduced a bill July 20.

Ayman reported on the discussions on MSNBC July 23.

(Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2022 at 7:30 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)