Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and the U.S. House of Representatives took action today to prevent future attacks on Democracy and ensure the events of January 6, 2021 are not repeated. The bipartisan Presidential Election Reform Act (PERA), introduced by Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), members of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, reforms the Electoral Count Act to protect elections from interference by state and federal lawmakers.
“On January 6, 2021, Americans watched in horror as violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine our electoral system. They did not prevail. But while the smoke has cleared and the chain fences around the Capitol have come down—the vitriol from that day lingers across the country,” said Pingree. “Today, House Democrats made one thing very clear: We will not stand by and let the dangerous lies and rhetoric of Donald Trump and his loyalists threaten the electoral process ever again. I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in passing this crucial legislation to protect and strengthen our democracy.”
PERA strengthens and reforms the Electoral Count Act by:
- Enacting clear, comprehensive counting rules that make the following important reforms:
- Reaffirm that the vice president's role at the count is ministerial;
- Raise the objection threshold to one-third of each house (up from a single Member of each house);
- List the explicit Constitutional grounds upon which Members may object to a state's electoral votes.
- Ensuring that Congress receives a single, accurate certificate from each state
- PERA sets a deadline by which governors must transmit their states' electoral appointments to Congress. If a governor fails to do so, or if he or she transmits inaccurate certificates of appointment, PERA authorizes candidates to obtain a federal court order requiring the governor to transmit the states' lawful certificate. If the governor refuses, then the court shall order another appropriate state official to issue the lawful certificate. The governor's certificate (or the certificate of the other state official, as the case may be) shall be conclusive for Congress' purposes at the electoral count.
- Requiring states to select electors pursuant to state laws as they exist prior to election day
- PERA requires states to conduct presidential elections under state laws as they exist prior to Election Day, which will clarify that there is no legal authority allowing state legislatures to "take back" their electoral appointment power after the election if they do not like the results.
- Ensuring that presidential elections are only extended for genuine catastrophic events
- PERA amends the Electoral Count Act's "failed elections" provision to ensure that a state's presidential election can only be extended if a federal judge agrees that the state has experienced a genuine catastrophic event affecting enough ballots to swing the outcome of the state's election.
- Prohibiting election officials from refusing to certify presidential elections
- The Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the United States Constitution prohibit election officials from willfully refusing to count ballots or certify elections in accordance with state election laws that exist on Election Day. PERA allows presidential candidates to seek federal injunctive relief against election officials to enforce these constitutional requirements in presidential elections if necessary.
Pingree has been outspoken about the acts which took place at the Capitol on January 6. Within hours of the deadly domestic terrorist attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Pingree cosponsored two separate House resolutions to impeach President Trump for seditious acts, and later voted to impeach him for a second time. Pingree has also called for investigation into members of Congress who voted to undermine the results of the 2020 election.
Pingree is a strong supporter of strengthening voting rights and elections, helping send voting rights legislation to the U.S. Senate three times in the 117th Congress.