July 22, 2022
Electoral Count Act Reform: The ceremony must be ceremonial

For almost a century and a half, until the 2020 election, the official counting of electoral votes in the U.S. House was a formality. On Wednesday, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and more than a dozen of their colleagues introduced bills intended to avoid the risks that surfaced on Jan. 6, 2021. Majority leader Chuck Schumer and minority leader Mitch McConnell have also both signaled support, potentially opening a filibuster-free path to approval. Look for this to move quickly: Hearings in the Senate Rules Committee are expected before the August recess.
  • Measure 1: The first bill would reform the 1887 Electoral Count Act (ECA), including provisions to raise the threshold to object to a state’s certified slate of electors, prevent state legislatures from rejecting a popular vote by declaring a “failed election,” streamline the process for litigating resr otherwise adjudicate disputes over electors.”
  • Measure 2: The second bill would stiffen penalties for threatening election officials, poll watchers, voters, and candidates, and provide new direction to the U.S. Postal Service on handling mail-in ballots. The measure would also reauthorize the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an agency created in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election that assists states with election security and administration. 
  • C70 presses for reform: CEO Al Schmidt has been meeting with members of Congress in both parties and White House staff in the months-long push for Electoral Count Act reform. See his commentary on the ECA and election funding in this National Institute of Civic Discourse forum.
PA Election Code: It’s broken, so fix it

This week, PA House State Government Committee chair Seth Grove (R-York) issued a 167-page report detailing issues with state election law and again sparred with Gov. Wolf over failed negotiations. While we agree there’s much to fix in the state’s notoriously antiquated Election Code, the most important reform continues to be additional time for counties to process ballots ahead of Election Day. Without this time, election results are delayed, which in the past has enabled losing candidates to baselessly question the results; election staff are rushed and stretched thin; and post-election audits are harder to complete in a timely manner. Elected leaders in Harrisburg must make every effort to find common ground. It’s what our voters and beleaguered election officials deserve.
  • No reform? Another rough election likely in November: Without more time to process ballots and explicit, statewide directions on which ballots can be counted, election officials tell WHYY they expect “another cycle of delay and baseless claims.”
  • Drop boxes: still safe, still effective: Their expanded use in 2020 didn’t lead to widespread problems, according to a nationwide Associated Press survey of state election officials that revealed no cases of fraud, vandalism or theft that could have affected the results.
Caught Our Eye
Common ground exists: On many issues, including the Electoral Count Act, Commonsense American finds there’s more bipartisan support for reform than many Americans might think.
On our radar
More legal challenges to mail-in voting: PA Republicans are going to Commonwealth Court again to repeal no-excuse mail-in voting. Their justification: A recent federal-court ruling allowing the counting of undated mail-in ballots in the May primary alters a clause in the 2019 law that allowed mail-in voting in the first place. They argue that any change in the law triggers its “non-severability” clause, thereby invalidating it entirely.

Lost, Not Stolen: A 72-page report by eight prominent Republicans, including election lawyer Ben Ginsberg and former Missouri Senator John Danforth, refutes the numerous claims made about the 2020 presidential election. Newsweek has details.

Criminal liability for election workers: As part of their jobs, election officials sometimes make judgment calls and simple mistakes. In 26 states, new laws passed since 2020 could make them criminals for doing so. States Newsroom reviews the landscape.
Get Involved
Apply for a Buchholz Fellowship

After a successful launch in 2017, our fifth cohort of Buchholz Fellows are concluding their year as members of C70’s Board of Directors. Now we’re seeking our sixth cohort. Buchholz Fellows are emerging young leaders (recommended age is 25-35ish) working in the private or nonprofit sector who embody the qualities that longtime Seventy stalwart Carl Buchholz exhibited in his life and work: personal and professional integrity, a strong work ethic, collaborative spirit, and a passion for improving his community. Applications are open until Friday, Aug. 26. Apply.
Voter Registration and Poll Worker Recruitment

The Philadelphia NAACP is partnering with Black Voters Matter and Millennials in Action to hosting register voters and recruit poll workers at events through September:

  • July 23, 12-2:30pm: Fred’s Water Ice (5343 Chester Ave)
  • July 30, 12-2:30pm: Fred's Water Ice (6560 N Lambert St)
  • Aug 13, 1-4pm: 52nd Street Station (52nd & Market St)
  • Aug 20, 12-3pm: Philadelphia Branch NAACP (4458-B Germantown Ave)
  • Aug 6, 1-4pm: Jacobs Northwest (7165 Germantown Ave)
  • Aug 27, 1-4pm: Broad & Olney Transportation Center
  • Sept 26, 1-4pm: Germantown & Chelten
Briefing for Electoral Count Reform & Election Protection
Mon., July 25 2 pm

After months of bipartisan negotiation, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced legislation to modernize the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, ensure the orderly transition of presidential power, improve election security, and protect election workers. Join Business for America for a virtual briefing with Mike Wakefield, senior counsel to Senator Collins, to discuss the two new bills. Register.
Q&A on the New State Budget
Tues., July 26, 6-7 pm

A week after missing their June 30 deadline, Pennsylvania lawmakers approved a new state budget. The $45 billion spending plan, which was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, created a child care tax-rebate program, boosted education funding, and funded new housing and environmental projects, among other provisions. Join Spotlight PA for a breakdown of the state’s new budget, and what it means for you. Register.
Algorithms & Anachronisms: How New Tech & Old Politics Are Holding Us Back
Wed., Aug. 10, 3 pm

In a devastating critique of America’s social-media practices in The Atlantic, NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt warned that “If we do not make major changes soon, then our institutions, our political system, and our society may collapse.” Haidt will expand on that chilling prediction in an Open Primaries virtual discussion led by former Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and Open Primaries CEO John Opdyke. Register.
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