Editorial: Lame-duck Congress Should Pass Election Reform Now – Houston Chronicle

As a result of extensive research one morning this week, we can now report that ducks limp for a variety of reasons. PoultryParade.com suggests that a duck may have lost its “Typical adorable Waddle” and has resorted to a hitch due to a bacterial infection. Or, it may be wobbly due to a niacin deficiency. Perhaps the little duckling following the flock near the pond in Hermann Park has a splinter in his delicate palm. Maybe he barely escaped the jaws of a leaping fox or a coyote chasing his dinner. Or, you may have developed an annoying condition known as bumblefoot.

Fortunately, as PoultryParade.com assures us, crazy-footed ducks can still float, paddle, and waddle. They are not as elegant or efficient as ducks with healthy legs and feet. Clubfoot politicians, metaphorically known as lame ducks, can also work.

For the current lame-duck Congress, with only a few weeks of work to do, here’s a bipartisan task worth talking about: passing once and for all the legislation known as Presidential Election Reform Act in the House and Electoral census reform law in the Senate The House bill passed this chamber and the Senate bill was sent to the floor, but awaits a vote. Each would make it clear that the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond the symbolic. The bills would expand the threshold necessary for members of both the House and Senate to challenge the election results of a state college.

Lawmakers have been talking about reform for months, at least since the morning after January 6, 2021. Time is running out to get it done.

What lawmakers are trying to reform is a 135-year-old law known as the Voter Count Act that, as written, is vague enough and confusing enough to potentially override the will of voters. In fact, he almost did. It is the law upon which an egotistical Donald Trump and his White House conspirators relied in their efforts to invalidate the results of the 2020 election and keep him in office.

The House version of the bill, sponsored by Congresswomen Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. (a lame duck after losing a primary to a Trump-backed opponent) should probably be labeled the Mike Pence Election Reform Act. Had it been in effect on January 6, the vice president would not have been subjected to Trump’s wholly inappropriate importuning to invalidate an election. The shadow of a hangman’s noose would not have loomed over his head as a seditious mob storming the Capitol howled “Hang Mike Pence!”

The Senate version, sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, attracted the support of nine Republicans during negotiations over the summer; It takes 10 to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. Since then, two more Republican senators, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have expressed their support.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Voter Count Act needs to be reformed, but has not said whether he supports the Senate bill. The Lofgren-Cheney bill passed the House in September with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Although both projects purport to reform the archaic Electoral Counting Act, they differ on the details. Current law allows a member of the House and a senator to challenge a state’s results during a joint session of Congress. The Senate bill would raise that threshold to one-fifth of each chamber, while the House version requires one-third of each body to approve debate. The differences would appear to be relatively minor.

Both bills also contain a provision that would bar electoral denialists, an ignominious contingent that has included Sen. Ted Cruz, then-House member Louie Gohmert, Attorney General Ken Paxton and other Texans, as well as more than 220 candidates who won state or federal office on Tuesday. The proposed reforms would help prevent state officials from changing election results in their state simply because they don’t like the result. Disputes over vote tabulations would end up in court. The judges would be the final arbiters.

In high-profile races across the country on Tuesday, voters shocked both parties by rejecting most election naysayers and candidates willing to undermine the integrity of the election system. A vote in favor of electoral recount reform would indicate that an elected official succeeds. It should be an easy vote. Even for crazy feet.

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