Poll: Senate electoral reform bill more popular than House version

Americans educated about congressional proposals aimed at preventing another attack on January 6 favor Senate reforms over a more comprehensive House bill, the University of Arizona’s National Institute of Civil Discourse found in a poll conducted over the summer.

The House and Senate have crafted competing bipartisan proposals that would reform the way Congress counts electoral votes.

Although the two bills are similar, they differ on the so-called objection threshold.

Current law allows one member of the House of Representatives and one senator to veto an elector or slate of electors, making it relatively easy for a minority of politicians to question the legitimacy of the election. This is exactly what happened before the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Legislation of the House of Representatives would raise the veto limit to one-third of each chamber; The Senate measure would raise it to a fifth of each chamber.

In the Informed Opinion Survey — unlike traditional surveys, participants read detailed policy summaries before taking office — 75% of respondents supported raising the threshold to one-fifth of each room. This number included 93% of Democrats, 77% of Independents, and 53% of Republicans.

Only 55% of respondents supported the stricter third threshold. This included 72% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and 37% of Republicans.

Senators introduced their legislation in July and believe it has the best chance of becoming law because it has enough Republican support to avoid disruption. Senate negotiators added two more sponsors to their cause Thursday, with Senator Pat Tommy (R-Penn) and Maggie Hassan (DNH) becoming the 21st and 22nd sponsors.

The legislation is set for the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday, but the proposal is unlikely to see a vote in the upper house until after the midterm elections.

Meanwhile, the House unveiled its version this week and passed it on Wednesday by 229 votes to 203. Nine Republicans joined all but one of the Democrats, who did not vote, in support of the measure.

The way forward is unclear, but supporters of the reforms hope that an update to the Electoral Screening Act of 1887 will reach the president’s office before newly elected members of Congress take office in January.

The survey also found that additional provisions pursued by Congress are widely popular. Clarifying that the vice president’s role in the ministerial electoral count received 89% support. The idea that legislatures should abide by the laws on the books on Election Day unless there is a catastrophic event got 80% support, and provisions requiring Congress to honor court rulings and limit grounds for objections to the state’s voter roll got 78% and 77 % support, respectively.

The survey initially asked respondents what the one-third and one-fourth limit for objection. The latter is not under consideration by either house, but a question about a one-fifth objection threshold was added this week, and respondents who completed the summary and questionnaire were asked to respond by email. The sample size is about 900 participants, but the results are nearly identical to the full sample of responses to the fourth threshold question, indicating that participants think the one-third threshold is too high.

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