A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced two bills on Wednesday, aimed at reforming a long-standing election law that entered the spotlight when Donald Trump used in his effort to overturn his 2020 loss to Democratic President Joe Biden.
One bill would reform the 1887 Electoral Count Act by clarifying the appropriate state and federal roles in choosing the president and vice president, and provide clear guidelines on when federal resources can be allocated to eligible presidential candidates.
As reported even more specifically by outlets including The New York Times, one measure would make it tougher for lawmakers to challenge a state’s electoral votes when Congress meets to make its official count. Further, the bill aims to clarify that the vice president has no discretion over the results -- that became a point of contention after Trump, alleging massive voter fraud, pressed Vice President Mike Pence to halt certification of the Electoral College results in Biden's favor.
Pence has himself insisted the vice president does not have such authority and fulfills more of a ceremonial role.
A second piece of legislation would double federal penalties for those who threaten or intimidate election workers, poll watchers, voters or candidates. It would also seek to improve the handling of mail-in ballots by the U.S. Postal System and states, authorize the federal agency that administers elections and safeguard election records.
The legislation is the result of months of discussions led by Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
"We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, common-sense reforms," said a statement released by the group of seven Democrats and eight Republicans.
Senate committees are expected to take up the two bills along with similar legislation from other lawmakers, with the aim of passing a reform package by year end.
The bipartisan group began working toward reform legislation in January, a year after protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to pressure then Vice President Mike Pence to stop certification of the former president's 2020 election loss to Biden.
Democrats in the House of Representatives have said they intend to move their own reform legislation.
Newsmax contributed to this report.
© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.