According to a report from Politico, Democrats are casting a wary eye at 2024's presidential election, aware that former president Donald Trump, should he run and lose again, will once again attempt to steal the election -- and might succeed.
As Politico's Kyle Cheney reports, the issue is a "constitutional roadblock" that needs to be reviewed and changed if there is a possibility that both chambers of Congress change hands and Republicans take control.
Noting that "Capitol Hill’s Jan. 6 investigators are exploring ways to Trump-proof future presidential elections by tightening up how lawmakers certify the results," the report claims that Congress could easily ignore any recommendations.
"Lawmakers are required under the Constitution to finalize presidential elections by certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, which made that date a target for former President Donald Trump and his most fervent backers," Cheney explained. "That work is guided — as it's been for more than a century now — by the Electoral Count Act, a complicated law passed after another rancorous White House race. But even at the time, there were deep questions about whether aspects of the law were constitutional."
And that, he points out, is the problem facing lawmakers right now.
Writing that Electoral Count Act is technically "little more than a glorified suggestion," Cheney adds that a GOP congress may just ignore it.
"Democrats, along with the two House GOP members of the Jan. 6 select committee, want to prevent a future effort by Trump or any other losing candidate to attack the transfer of power during certification. That makes Electoral Count Act reform a central part of the select committee’s mandate," the reports states. "Yet before the panel can propose a change to the law, it must at least try to settle a question that’s vexed generations of constitutional scholars."
"Experts are split on whether any Congress can pass a law that would dictate how its successors certify presidential elections. Typically, the House and Senate have the constitutional power to set their own rules, which can be changed at will. Attempting to legislate against this would be unconstitutional. But the Electoral College certification is so significant that many constitutional scholars say it overrides that congressional prerogative," Cheney wrote. "Still, their view is, practically speaking, irrelevant. What matters most is how leaders of the Congress elected in 2024 and future presidential years behave. They’re not beholden to adopt the prevailing view of the scholarly community, and congressional leaders often don’t."
As the report notes, allies of Trump attempted to get former vice president Mike Pence to override the act following the 2020 presidential election -- and he refused -- and now Democrats worry a Republican Congress would be more flexible in bending to the former president's wishes should he run and lose again.
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