Congress Must Update Electoral Count Act to Avoid Another January 6th Attack

The House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on our country will hold its third hearing today at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, focusing on the former President’s effort on and leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count lawful electoral votes. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trevor Potter, founder and president of Campaign Legal Center and Republican Former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, issued the following statement: 

“Elections should be decided by voters, not partisan politicians. The next presidential election could be one of the most contentious ever, which is why the time to act is now. The single most practical thing Congress can do to avoid another attack like what we saw on January 6th is to update the Electoral Count Act and protect the will of the people.”

Background on the Electoral Count Act:
In the wake of the 2020 election, partisan actors attempted to exploit loopholes in the Electoral Count Act (ECA), an obscure law from 1887 that outlines procedures for counting electoral college votes. While the attempts to reject state-certified election results and overrule the will of voters were unsuccessful, gaps and ambiguities remain in the ECA and are ripe for manipulation. Bipartisan efforts in Congress are underway to close a loophole in the ECA — which hasn’t been updated in more than 130 years — that could allow partisan actors to again try to throw out a state’s certified presidential election results.

A poll commissioned by Campaign Legal Center showed strong, bipartisan support among voters for updating the ECA. It also highlights the serious concern held by a majority of voters (58%) that one party in Congress could try to overturn the results of an upcoming presidential election to put their own candidate in power. 

Congress has the power to update the ECA and bring it into the 21st century. Any legislation that is truly meant to address the ECA’s shortcomings should include at a minimum, the following:

  • Clarify the role of the vice president and Congress in counting electoral votes.
  • Define rules and procedures for objections in counting electoral votes and raise the threshold for objections.
  • Establish clear timetables.
  • Articulate appropriate processes for resolving post-election disputes. 

Mr. Potter was also invited by the House Committee to submit an expert statement, highlighting what’s at stake for future elections.