Much needed US electoral reform

The US system of elections is very different in New Zealand. In politicians have basically no role in determining who wins an election. The PM sets the election date, but after that the administration of the election is done by the Electoral Commission who independently declares who has been elected.

In the US, politicians are involved at multiple levels. County Clerks (often a politician) runs the election in their county, and the State Secretary of State runs it in each state. The Governor signs off on who has been elected, and then Congress certifies the results.

This has worked well for most of the last 200 years, but we saw in 2020 how the system could be used to try and overthrow the result with such ridiculous notions such as the Vice-President can unilaterally decide who has won.

The Guardian reports:

A bipartisan group of senators reached a deal on Wednesday to reform a federal and prevent a future presidential candidate from overturning the will of the people and the result of a valid presidential election.

The lawmakers have agreed to two bills that would reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs how electoral votes are counted after a presidential election. Citing ambiguities in the law, Donald Trump and his attorneys pushed his vice-president, Mike Pence, to disrupt the counting of electoral votes that showed he lost the 2020 election, escalating calls for the 135-year-old to be reformed.

I hope this passes. The voters should decide who gets elected, not politicians. The major changes include:

  • Raising the threshold for objection to a state’s electors from one Representative and one Senator to 88 Representatives and 20 Senators – so an objection will only be considered if there is a huge number of legislators who believe there is a legitimate issue
  • Setting up a quick judicial oversight process where any disputes goes firstly to a three panel court, with a right of appeal to the US Supreme Court.
  • Clarifying that only a Governor can submit a slate of electors
  • Clarifying that a “failed election” allowing a new slate of electors can only be triggered if there were “extraordinary and catastrophic events”
  • Clarifying beyond doubt the Vice-President does not determine which electors are legitimate

Anyone who thinks the US should be a should support these changes.

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