Bipartisan electoral count reform bill unveiled by Collins, Capito becomes law

Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to reform and modernize the Electoral Count Act of 1887 became law as part of the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill.

“I am thrilled to see this bill become law and reaffirm each state’s rightful responsibility to administer their elections, help deter bad faith decertification efforts on both sides of the aisle, and provide the common-sense solutions we need,” Sen. Capito said in a Jan. 19 statement.

The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022, S. 4573, which Sen. Collins sponsored in July 2022 with 14 original cosponsors, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), will ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“After nearly a year of bipartisan negotiations, we are delighted that the Senate’s ECA [Electoral Count Act of 1887] reform is now law,” said Sens. Collins and Manchin in a joint statement released last month. “This law fixes the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous [ECA] and establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for president and vice president.”

Additionally, S. 4573 will promote a “peaceful transition of power” between the outgoing and incoming president, the summary says.

“I am a firm supporter of our electoral system, which allows states to administer elections based on the tailored needs of their populations,” Sen. Capito said. “The federal government should not be tasked with adjudicating lawfully cast votes, which is why I proudly introduced this legislation and provided support as a member of the Senate Rules Committee.”

Among several provisions in the bill, it will provide clear procedures that maintain appropriate state and federal roles in selecting the president and vice president as set forth in the U.S. Constitution, as well as clear guidelines for when eligible candidates for those positions may receive federal resources to support their transition into office, the summary says.

The Senate Rules Committee on Sept. 27, 2022, passed the bill with a 14-1 vote. As part of the omnibus funding package, it passed the U.S. Senate, 68-29, and then the U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-201 to approve it before President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on Dec 28, 2022 as part of the funding package.