Another perspective: As 2020 showed, election reform a must

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(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Along with other items thrown out of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, were tradition and honor.

The tradition of conducting a peaceful transition of power was lost in the insurrection. Lost, too, was the honor of Congress assembling to count votes by electors – individuals pledged to vote for a presidential candidate in what is known as the Electoral College.

Whether one agrees with the Electoral College procedure, Americans still saw tradition and honor eroded on that Jan. 6 day.

Serious and promising efforts in the U.S. Senate are afoot to modernize an outdated and ambiguous law that much of the stolen-election advocates tried to use to their advantage.

Two bills are aimed at reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which few Americans had heard of until it was cited in a dissent to the Bush v. Gore decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. The dissenting opinion noted that Congress, not the courts, could have resolved the dispute.

NOW, the first of two Senate bills is the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation backed by U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana.

The best way to explain the Electoral Count Reform Act may be to address questions that cropped up during the 2021 certification of Electoral College results.

Could Vice President Mike Pence be solely responsible for selecting the winner of the 2020 election? The bill would clarify that the vice president’s role is ministerial and without power to accept, reject or determine disputes over electors.

Can one member of Congress halt the count? Currently, it takes only one member of the House and one from the Senate to object to electors. This bill would change that requirement to one-fifth of both chambers.

WHAT IF a governor and another official from the same state submit different slates of electors to Congress? Under the reform bill, only a governor may submit the slate.

The second bill, the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act, would double penalties to two years for individuals who threaten election workers. It also provides guidance for states that allow mail-in votes, addresses cybersecurity and sets penalties for anyone who destroys election records, including electronic records.

The first bill, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, is of critical importance.

Some have advocated for more discussion about the bill so that it, too, doesn’t need to be reformed in the coming years.

But a skeptical America needs to see election reform now.

The country needs a bipartisan solution to address divisions that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection and still resound across the nation. And right now, this bill could be a positive and unifying response.

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