Published February 18, 2022 by Nan Mykel

 Susan Collins, the Republican senator from Maine,  writes in an opinion piece in the New York Times today that “there is nothing more essential to the survival of a democracy than the orderly transfer of power, and there is nothing more essential to the orderly transfer of power than clear rules for effecting it. We should not depend on the fidelity and resolve of vice presidents to follow the intent of these rules; the law should be crystal clear on the parameters of the vice president’s powers and consistent with the very limited role set forth in the Constitution. Vice President Pence’s actions on Jan. 6 were heroic. But the peaceful transfer of power shouldn’t require heroes.

“Much debate has focused recently on the casting of ballots. Much more attention must be paid to the counting and certifying of votes. Our democracy depends on it. To prevent the subversion of the electoral process, Congress must reform the Electoral Count Act. A bipartisan group of 16 senators is working to do that.

“The ambiguously phrased Electoral Count Act must be amended to make absolutely clear that a vice president cannot manipulate or ignore electoral votes as he or she presides over this joint session of Congress. But other flaws in the law must also be remedied. For instance, the law’s threshold for triggering a challenge to the results of a state is far too low: Only one representative and one senator are required to object to a state’s electors. In the past, members on both sides of the aisle have challenged the vote without any real evidence of wrongdoing.

“Our group of senators shares a vision of drafting legislation to ensure the integrity of our elections and public confidence in the results. We want a bill that will be considered by committees, debated on the Senate floor, garner the support of the Senate’s two leaders and pass the Senate with 60 or more votes….”

“Our primary focus must be on avoiding another Jan. 6 by reforming the Electoral Count Act. That is the vital goal in itself, our duty to perform and a worthy mission that should not be derailed by good-faith but ultimately partisan provisions.

“We do not know if we will succeed, but we are trying to fix a serious problem.  The senators working on this legislation have philosophical, regional and political differences. When we disagree, we attempt to persuade one another — we cajole, haggle and even argue — but we do so with an eye on a common goal. That is the way it is supposed to work in a democracy. Maybe we could refer to the process as ‘legitimate political discourse’.”

For full article: nytimes.com

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