WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the bipartisan Senate election reform working group, released the following statement today in response to the introduction of the group’s bipartisan reform package:
“Free and fair elections are fundamental to who we are as a nation. For this reason, I strongly support the bipartisan working group’s proposal to reform and modernize the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887. As we saw in the 2020 elections, different interpretations of the ECA can lead down a dangerous path, such as when former President Donald Trump and his enablers attempted to overturn a free and fair election won by President Joe Biden. Our bipartisan working group’s legislative proposal clarifies the appropriate state and federal roles in selecting the president and vice president of the United States. It also makes it easier for Congress to identify a single, conclusive state of electors for each state, in part by requiring states to follow the rules they set before the election when designating their electors. We reiterate that the vice president has a purely ceremonial role in the mandatory joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes. This was in direct response to President Trump’s unconstitutional pressure campaign against Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes from the states that enabled and led to the January 6 insurrection and attack at the Capitol. We also increase the threshold needed to lodge objections against electoral votes to lessen the chance of frivolous objections in the future. And our legislation has a strong provision for expedited federal judicial review to resolve legal challenges more efficiently before the Electoral College meets to cast their votes.
“I thank Senators Susan Collins and Joe Manchin for leading this effort. Our working group made several additional, useful recommendations to strengthen presidential transitions, improve the U.S. Postal Service’s handling of election mail, and reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which helps administer grants to states and provides best practices for election officials in various areas, including cybersecurity, election audits and voting accessibility.
“We make important progress in this bipartisan election reform package. However, Congress needs to take steps to protect and enhance voting rights. Voting is a fundamental part of who we are as a nation and I am gravely concerned that after the 2020 election many states enacted laws that made it harder to vote, including new criminal penalties that could deter legitimate voter turnout efforts. Many states also have passed laws that could increase partisan interference in elections, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and a stolen 2020 election.
“Congress’ work will not be complete when we pass this bipartisan proposal. We still must take up and pass voting rights legislation in order to safeguard the right to vote, which should be a right guaranteed to all Americans.”