Should it be harder to overturn presidential elections? Slim majority agree, poll finds

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

A majority of Americans support altering the way Congress certifies elections to make it more difficult to override presidential election results, according to a new poll.

Fifty-two percent of respondents in the latest Politico-Morning Consult poll said they support legislation that would make it harder for the U.S. Congress to overrule presidential election results. Twenty-six percent opposed the notion, and 22% had no opinion or did not know.

When asked whether they would support legislation to make it more difficult for state governments to override presidential election results, 53% of respondents said yes, while 27% said no, according to the poll.

Additionally, 39% of respondents said the threshold to force a vote on objecting to electoral votes should be higher, while 25% said it should be kept the same. Current law requires one House member and one senator to force a vote objecting to the electoral votes from a particular state in presidential elections.

The poll surveyed 2,005 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

On Sept. 27, several days after the poll was conducted, the U.S. Senate advanced a bill that would make significant changes to the way the U.S. Congress certifies elections, according to Axios. The bill would modernize the Electoral Count Act, an 1887 law that tacked new procedures onto existing rules in the Constitution for tallying presidential election votes.

Among its provisions, it would raise the threshold for the number of members of Congress needed to object to electoral votes and “clarify the vice president’s role in the process as purely ceremonial as a remedy for the events of Jan. 6, 2021,” according to Axios.

The Senate Rules Committee overwhelmingly voted on Sept. 27 to bring the legislation to a full Senate vote, according to the New York Times. Only Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas objected.

“This bill is Congress trying to intrude on the authority of the state legislatures,” Cruz said in a statement on Sept. 27.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor on Sept. 27, said “Congress’ process for counting their presidential electors’ votes was written 135 years ago. The chaos that came to a head on January 6th of last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” according to the Washington Post.

Rioters in support of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, delaying Congress’ certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential race. Trump repeatedly made baseless accusations of voter fraud after media outlets called the race for Biden, tweeting on the day of the riot that then-Vice President Mike Pence “didn’t have the courage” to block the election results — despite the vice president having no such power to do so.

McConnell’s endorsement of the “common sense” legislation increases the chances it will be adopted, as the bill requires 60 votes to pass in a Senate divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, according to the Times.

A similar bill passed in the House last week, and differences between both pieces of legislation will need to be reconciled before a final bill can be sent to the president’s desk, according to Reuters. The U.S. Senate’s version would require one-fifth of the chamber’s members to raise an objection, according to The Washington Post, while the U.S. House’s version requires a third of members.

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