RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — When we talk about who wins what state during a presidential election, it’s all about reaching the golden number of 270 electoral votes.
The process is governed by the Electoral Count Act of 1877, which, according to a North Carolina policy expert is “full of vague and outdated language.”
Asher Hildebrand, Associate Professor the Practice at Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy said, “For most of our nation’s history that hasn’t mattered because the process has been pretty much ceremonial and we’ve taken for granted that the votes cast on election day will be the same ones certified by congress at the end of the process.”
January 6, 2021 showed just how vulnerable the 145-year-old law can be.
“It really is striking how close it came to failing and I think that’s one reason that it’s essential that we fix this,” said Hildebrand.
Congress is now working to update the arcane law to prevent another attempt to overthrow an election. We have learned from the January 6th hearings that Donald Trump tried to get allies from various states that he lost to appoint a fake set of electors and that he pressured then Vice President Pence to delay counting the rightful electoral votes.
147 members of congress also voted against certifying the electoral count, including all but one republican member of the House from North Carolina. The proposed changes to the Electoral Vote Act would help close the possibility of any of this happening again, regardless of party.
But some have voiced concern about whether taking control of electors away from state legislators and giving it to governors, is enough.
“There are some concerns that that doesn’t go far enough because governors who endorse the Big Lie or support President Trump could still kind of disregard the will of their people, but it would at the very least clarify what is currently a very chaotic legal situations,” said Hildebrand.
The urgency to do something increases each time another member of Trump’s campaign or administration testifies under oath, jolting Americans and the world into the reality of just how delicate the balance of democracy really is.
“I think that’s why you’re seeing even Mitch McConnell the minority leader in the senate and this group of nine senators that includes Thom Tillis from North Carolina saying, ‘look at a bare minimum this is what we can do to prevent this from happening again’,” said Hildebrand.