Congress is trying to prevent another January 6

In a rare case of bipartisan agreement, a group of 16 Democratic and Republican senators recently reached agreement on legislation to make it harder to void a presidential election. It represents the most significant move by Congress to respond to former President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to reverse his 2020 election defeat – though its passage is far from guaranteed in a 50-50 split Senate, according to parties.
The deal aims to overhaul the archaic 1887 law known as the Electoral Count Act that Trump tried to exploit last year by requiring then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes. in several states that Trump had lost to Joe Biden.

The proposal, led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, would make it clear that a vice president’s role in counting those votes is only ceremonial. And it would be harder for members of Congress to object to a state’s presidential results by requiring one-fifth of the House and Senate to object — rather than just one House member and one senator.

The bill, backed by nine Republicans and seven Democrats, also identifies state governors, unless otherwise specified in law or the state constitution in effect on Election Day, as those responsible for certifying presidential voters. It’s an effort to thwart attempts by partisan actors to come up with alternative voter lists if they don’t like the election results, and it eliminates the ability of Congress to choose among competing lists.
(As you will recall, Trump allies summoned fake voters in several key states as part of an effort to subvert the Electoral College.)

A separate Senate bill, backed by five Republicans and seven Democrats, attempts to address ongoing threats to the election administration by increasing federal penalties for anyone who threatens or intimidates election officials or tampers with voting systems.

Early reaction

A group of five electoral law professors recently hailed the proposed rewrite of the voter count law as a “major improvement” over the antiquated law.
But a coalition of leading civil rights groups released a statement over the weekend, saying the proposal “is not enough to protect our democracy at this fragile time.”
They want Congress to confront what they call “rising racial discrimination in voting,” following court rulings that eroded the power of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Repeated efforts by Senate Democrats to go further in the vote, however, failed in the face of Republican opposition and the reluctance of moderate Democrats to change Senate filibuster rules.)

Moreover, the Senate version is unlikely to be the last word.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican who serves as vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, assault on the United States Capitol, and California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat on the panel, say the committee will have its own recommendations on strengthening the voter count law.

Will election deniers gain traction in more states?

Next week will kick off a new round of primary elections across the country, and future editions of the CITIZEN newsletter will feature guides from CNN’s campaign team to the top races to watch each week.

Perhaps the biggest test of whether election denial has taken firm root among Republican loyalists will come in Arizona’s Aug. 2 primary.

Trump has endorsed several candidates in the Grand Canyon State who embraced his baseless claims that widespread voter fraud led to his 2020 defeat, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Secretary of State Mark Finchem and venture capitalist Blake Masters, who is battling to take on Democratic Senator Mark Kelly in the general election.

(As CNN’s Alex Rogers recently reported, Masters has even begun to question whether the 2022 election will be legitimate as he works to cement his good faith among Trump supporters.)
And Karrin Taylor Robson, the Pence-endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arizona, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar this week that she doesn’t believe the 2020 election is fair for Trump and wouldn’t say that she accepts the 2020 results.

Locally in Arizona, meanwhile, a four-way race for a seat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors includes candidates who have advanced electoral conspiracy theories.

One, Republican Thayer Verschoor, a former state senator who served in the Trump administration, said on his campaign website that the 2020 election “was corrupt and a victory was stolen.” to the former president.
Sasha Hupka of the Arizona Republic recently noted that the outcome of this contest in Arizona’s most populous county – where Phoenix is ​​located – could change the united front the Maricopa board has. firmly presented to defend the integrity of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.
(Election conspiracies over the 2020 election prompted state Senate Republicans to order a sprawling investigation into Maricopa’s ballots. It became the butt of national jokes last year as examiners sued wild conspiracy theories, such as the bamboo sign hunt, based on a claim that 40,000 ballots had arrived from Asia Ultimately, the recount concluded that Biden had in fact won the county with a larger margin than the official count.)

Biden captured Arizona by nearly 10,500 votes out of more than 3 million votes statewide.

Whoever wins the Maricopa seat will serve until January 2025 and help oversee the county’s 2024 presidential election.

you must read

  • These stories in Reuters and The New York Times about new steps taken by conservative sheriff organizations to investigate the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump. As Reuters notes, election officials fear that partisan investigations into baseless allegations of voter fraud could undermine public confidence in the election.
  • CNN’s story on the busy month before fact-finding and decision-making for the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. Cheney, the panel’s No. 2 lawmaker, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” this weekend that the committee may “consider a subpoena” for Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a Conservative activist and wife of the Supreme Court Justice. Clarence Thomas.
  • This story from CNN’s Eric Bradner about how the GOP gubernatorial primary in Arizona turned into a proxy war between Trump and his former vice president.

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