Upton proposes legislation to reform electoral counts, presidential transitions

A bipartisan bill offered on Sept. 15 by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) would reform and update the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for the President of the United States (POTUS).

“Americans want certainty in elections, not vested parties’ interpretations of laws from the 1800s,” Rep. Upton said. “By clearly specifying the procedures for counting electoral votes, this bill provides the clarity voters need to know their vote for president matters.

“Further,” he said, “it ensures the gamesmanship of political parties will not be a factor in the longstanding presidential selection process.”

Rep. Upton is the lead original cosponsor of the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022, H.R. 8846, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) to provide clear guidelines for when and to whom resources are provided by the administrator of General Services for use in connection with the preparations for the assumption of official duties as POTUS or vice president, according to the text of the bill.

For example, one provision would identify each state’s governor as responsible for submitting the certificate of ascertainment identifying that state’s electors, according to a one-page summary provided by the lawmakers. “Congress could not accept a slate submitted by a different official. This reform would address the potential for multiple state officials to send Congress competing slates,” the summary states.

Another section of the proposed bill would help to promote the orderly transfer of power by providing guidelines for when eligible candidates for POTUS or vice president could receive federal resources to support their transition into office.

“When neither candidate has conceded within five days of election day, both candidates may receive equal access to federal transition resources until it is substantially certain who will win the majority of electoral votes,” says another one-page summary for this section of the bill. 

H.R. 8846 is the companion bill to the same-named S. 4573, sponsored in July by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and 15 original cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“We are very pleased that Representatives Gottheimer and Upton have introduced the House companion to our legislation that would correct the flaws in the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” said Sens. Collins and Manchin in a joint statement. “Their leadership helps build momentum to pass these significant and much-needed reforms. We will continue to work with our colleagues to increase bipartisan, bicameral support for this legislation.”