Americans who were briefed on congressional proposals aimed at preventing another attack on January 6 prefer the reforms in the Senate to a more far-reaching bill in the House, 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 the way Congress counts electoral votes.
Although the two bills are similar, they diverge on the so-called objection threshold.
Current law allows one member of the House and one member of the Senate to challenge a voter or list of voters, making it relatively easy for a minority of politicians to question the legitimacy of an election. That is exactly what happened before the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol.
The House legislation would raise the objection threshold to one-third of each chamber; the Senate measure would raise it to one-fifth of each chamber.
In the informed opinion poll, unlike traditional polls, participants read detailed policy summaries before taking a position: 75% of participants supported raising the threshold to one-fifth of each chamber. That number included 93% of Democrats, 77% of independents and 53% of Republicans.
Only 55% of those surveyed supported the stricter threshold of one third. That included 72% of Democrats, 59% of independents and 37% of Republicans.
Senators introduced their legislation in July and believe it has a better chance of becoming law because it has enough Republican support to prevent a filibuster. Senate negotiators added two more co-sponsors to their cause Thursday, with Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) becoming co-sponsors 21 and 22.
The legislation is scheduled for a raise in 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 released its version this week and passed it on the floor on Wednesday in a 229-203 vote. Nine Republicans joined all but one Democrat, who did not vote, in supporting the measure.
The way forward is unclear, but supporters of the reforms hope an update to the Election Recount Act of 1887 will make it to the president’s desk before newly elected members of Congress take office in January.
The survey also found that the additional provisions being pursued by Congress are widely popular. Clarifying that the role of the vice president in the electoral count is ministerial obtained 89% support. The idea that legislatures must comply with the laws in effect on election day, barring a catastrophic event, received 80% support, and provisions that require Congress to honor court rulings and limit the grounds for objections to a state’s voters list received 78% and 77% support. , respectively.
Originally, survey participants were asked about a one-third and one-fourth objection threshold. Neither chamber is considering the latter, but a question about a one-fifth objection threshold was added this week, and participants who had already completed the report and questionnaire were asked to respond via email. That sample size is about 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.