Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King celebrated Thursday after a year-long effort resulted in the Senate’s approval of reforms to prevent future attempts to overturn presidential elections by disrupting the electoral vote count.

The Electoral Count Act reforms advanced Thursday afternoon as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill that will keep the federal government funded into the new year. The Senate passed the massive bill on a 68-29 vote. It is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives by Friday and then signed into law.

Senators Susan Collins and Angus King Brianna Soukup and Gregory Rec/Staff Photographers

Both Collins, a Republican, and King, an independent, have been at the forefront of the effort to correct shortcomings in the 1887 Electoral Count Act exploited by former President Donald Trump in his effort on Jan. 6, 2021, to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election.

The bipartisan bill was negotiated between January and July by a group led by Collins and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., but did not get put to a vote until Thursday. King, a member of the Senate committee with oversight of federal elections, was a co-sponsor and prominent voice in support of the bill.

The Electoral Count Act lays out how Congress counts the official Electoral College ballots the 50 states send to Washington early in January after each presidential election.

It was this certification process – and ambiguities in the wording of the law – that Trump and his congressional allies leveraged on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The mob of Trump supporters that attacked the Capitol that day sought to disrupt this ceremonial count and punish Vice President Mike Pence for failing to block it.


The bill would close the door on anyone repeating the former president’s attempt to pressure a vice president to block ceremonial certification of the election by explicitly stating that vice presidents don’t have the power to judge or overturn the Electoral College results. It also raises the bar for lodging objections to Electoral College results from one member of Congress to at least one-fifth of the members, and eliminates a loophole that state legislatures could use to throw out election results simply by declaring the election to be “failed.”

Collins and Manchin released a joint written statement celebrating the Senate vote.

“The Senate’s ECA reform effort is the result of nearly a year of bipartisan negotiation, including numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of election experts and legal scholars,” they said. “Our bipartisan group worked tirelessly to draft this legislation that fixes the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887 and establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for president and vice president. We are pleased that our legislation has passed the Senate and are grateful to have the support of so many of our colleagues. We look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.”

King also issued a statement praising the vote.

“The Electoral Count Reform Act is the most important piece of legislation we’ve passed this Congress because it protects the foundation of our entire democratic system,” King said. “After attempts to overturn a free and fair election in 2021 exposed dangerous vulnerabilities in the antiquated Electoral Count Act, this bill was essential to defuse the ticking time bomb at the heart of our system of government. Now, as some continue to raise doubts about our electoral system, the bill ensures the ECA can never again be used as a weapon by disappointed candidates. … “After over a year of work on this bill, I’m proud my colleagues and I could find bipartisan consensus to stave off a looming crisis in our presidential election process.”

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