A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins, recently introduced proposed reforms to the Electoral Count Act – an archaic law passed in 1887 that governs the procedure for casting and counting electoral votes for president and vice president. Negotiations for these reforms took place over several months through dozens of meetings; consultations with election experts and legal scholars, and hours of hard work. I commend Sen. Collins for her dedication to protecting our democracy and for leading the bipartisan working group to this critical, common-sense proposal. Collins recently testified before the Senate Rules Committee, along with a group of distinguished experts, in support of the legislation.

Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi preside over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the 2020 Electoral College results. Donald Trump claimed that an 1887 law allowed Pence to block votes from states that Joe Biden won. Although reforms crafted by a bipartisan group led by Sen. Susan Collins would prevent such challenges to the vice president’s role, these changes are aimed at abuses in 2024 and beyond. J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

The reforms crafted by the bipartisan group would prevent future challenges to the role of the vice president of the United States in counting electoral votes from the states after a presidential election; raise the number of votes within the House and Senate needed to object to a slate of electors, and protect each state from political extremists in either party by ensuring the process established by each state is recognized by Congress.

The Electoral Count Act has received a lot of attention in the last year after an attempt was made to violate the law to overturn the results of the 2020 election. However, the reforms proposed by the bipartisan group have much more value than to serve as a simple response to the previous election. Instead, these reforms are about the future. By clarifying gaps and strengthening weaknesses, Electoral Count Act reforms will prevent election abuses in 2024 and beyond – from potential bad actors on both sides of the aisle.

Campaign lawyers from both political parties are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of the current weaknesses of the Electoral Count Act, looking for ways to abuse them for their own gain. The Electoral Count Act was intended to protect our young democracy with a process that guarantees that the will of the American people is done in a peaceful transition of power from one American president, to the next. Susan Collins is working to update it for the 21st century so Americans can maintain their faith in this process and the world will continue to value the model of American democracy.

Whenever changes to our election process – the cornerstone of America’s democracy – are proposed, it’s critical that both political parties have a seat at the table to ensure continued trust in the system. Collins’ efforts to work across the aisle to reach a consensus on these simple, sensible reforms are admirable. She has led on this issue since the very beginning, protecting our democracy and working to ensure our election system is secure.

It’s important that Congress understand that updating the Electoral Count Act is not only about responding to the past – it’s about shoring up protections for all future elections. Failure to do so could contribute to further erosion in public confidence for our electoral system.

With the reforms proposed by Sen. Collins and her working group, Congress has a unique opportunity to strengthen our election system with bipartisan support. They should work to pass these reforms as soon as possible, especially before the presidential election of 2024.

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