A Guide to Fixing the Electoral Count Act
Andy Craig of the Cato Institute recently published “How to Pick a President: A Guide to Electoral Count Act Reform” an excellent overview of the problems with the Electoral Count Act revealed in the awful aftermath of the 2020 election, and how to fix them. Craig is a leading expert on ECA reform, and is his paper is a great introduction for anyone interested in these issues.
Here is the summary:
The peaceful transfer of power, regular elections, and limited terms of office are among our most precious legacies of the American Revolution. These bedrock constitutional principles are indispensable both to “insure domestic Tranquility” and to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
But as we saw in the 2020 election, operating under an antiquated rule book can pose serious risks. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 (ECA), with minor amendments since, is the statutory codification of important details left unaddressed by the Constitution’s sparse provisions for electing a president. It is in dire need of reform.
America should not have to confront a potential constitutional crisis every four years. We should have confidence that the rule of law will prevail in determining the occupant of our highest office. The ECA as it stands is woefully inadequate to provide that assurance.
There is broad agreement on the need for ECA reform. Proposals range from a broad, expansive bill that could be criticized as overly complicated and assuming a role for Congress beyond the Constitution’s limits, to a narrow, minimalist bill that could leave important problems unresolved by only making minor cosmetic changes.
There is a better middle course, built on a thorough consideration of the constitutional principles at stake. The ECA as it exists now is too flawed to save. Even if no substantive changes were to
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