Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said the Electoral Count Reform Act that Congress passed to adjust federal election law was necessary but “doesn’t solve the fundamental problem” of the Electoral College.
Congress approved the Electoral Count Reform Act as part of the omnibus government funding bill that it passed last week, sending the legislation to President Biden for his signature.
“I’m for that, and that’s the very least we can do and we must do. It’s necessary, but it’s not remotely sufficient,” Raskin said.
The makes clear the vice president has only a ceremonial role in counting the ballots of the Electoral College and cannot refuse a state’s electors. Former President Trump and his allies had sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results by urging former Vice President Mike Pence to reject ballots from key states where Biden won that sealed his victory.
The measure also increases the number of House and Senate members required to object to the certification of the ballots in order for Congress to need to review the ballots. The threshold will be raised from one member of both houses to a fifth of the members of the bodies.
But Raskin, who served as a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, said the Electoral College itself was a danger as there are many “curving byways and nooks and crannies” that some can use to create “strategic mischief.”
“We should elect the president the way we elect governors, senators, mayors, representatives, everybody else — whoever gets the most votes wins,” Raskin said.
He noted that on five occasions the winner of the national popular vote has lost the Electoral College and thus the presidency, including twice in this century. Those include the 2000 and 2016 elections in which George W. Bush and Trump respectively won the election despite losing the popular vote.
“You know, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year exporting American democracy to other countries, and the one thing they never come back to us with is the idea that, ‘Oh, that Electoral College that you have, that’s so great, we think we will adopt that too,’ ” he said.
Raskin said former President Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father, “deplored the sanctimonious reverence” with which some people look at the work of the original Framers of the Constitution.
“Some men look at Constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, & deem them, like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. they ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment,” Jefferson once said, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
Raskin said Jefferson recognized that the Founding Fathers do not have the experience that the public has today, and the Electoral College does not “fit” anymore.