Americans who have been educated on Congressional proposals to prevent another Jan. 6 attack prefer Senate reforms to a more ambitious House bill, the University of Arizona bill National Institute of Civic Discourse found in an informed opinion poll conducted over the summer.
The House and Senate have crafted competing bipartisan proposals that would reform how Congress counts electoral votes.
Although the two bills are similar, they diverge on a so-called objection threshold.
Current law allows a member of the House and a member of the Senate to oppose a voter or a list of voters, making it relatively easy for a minority of politicians to question the legitimacy of a election. This is exactly what happened before the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
House legislation would raise the objection threshold to one-third of each house; the Senate measure would raise it to one-fifth of each house.
In the informed opinion poll — unlike traditional polls, participants read detailed guidance notes before taking a position – 75% of participants supported raising the threshold to one-fifth of each chamber. That number included 93% Democrats, 77% independents and 53% Republicans.
Only 55% of respondents were in favor of the stricter threshold of one third. This included 72% Democrats, 59% independents and 37% Republicans.
The senators introduced their legislation in July and believe it has the best chance of becoming law because it has enough Republican support to avoid a filibuster. Senate negotiators added two more co-sponsors to their cause on Thursday, the Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) becoming the 21st and 22nd co-sponsors.
The legislation is slated for tagging at the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday, but the proposal is unlikely to make it to a floor vote in the upper house before the midterm elections.
The House, meanwhile, unveiled its version this week and passed it on Wednesday in a 229-203 vote. Nine Republicans joined all but one Democrat, who did not vote, in favor of the measure.
The way forward is unclear, but proponents of the reforms hope an update to the Voter Count Act of 1887 will reach the president’s desk before newly elected members of Congress take office in office. January.
The survey also found that the additional provisions Congress is pursuing are widely popular. Clarifying that the role of the vice president in the electoral count is ministerial received 89% support. The idea that legislatures must abide by the laws in effect on Election Day unless there is a catastrophic event received 80% support, and provisions requiring Congress to honor court decisions and limiting grounds for objecting to a state’s voters list received 78% and 77% support, respectively.
The survey originally asked participants for a one-third and one-quarter objection threshold. The latter is not under consideration by either chamber, but a question about a one-fifth objection threshold was added this week, and participants who had already completed the brief and questionnaire were invited to reply to it by e-mail. This sample size is approximately 900 participants, but the results are nearly identical to the full sample of responses to the one-quarter threshold question, suggesting that participants believe the one-third threshold is too high.
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