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Jan. 21, 2022, 4:38 p.m. EST

Democrats more drawn to fine-tuning Electoral Count Act of 1887 after failure this week of ambitious voting-rights legislation

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“It’s such a needed thing,” said Manchin, who added that the narrower scope was “the first place” Democrats “should have started.”

Manchin and Sinema effectively tanked Democrats’ marquee bill Wednesday, joining Republicans in voting against a rule change that would have allowed the party’s voting legislation to pass with a simple majority.

Collins has proposed new protections for poll and elections workers, some of whom received chilling threats to their safety after the 2020 election. She has also called for more funding for local elections. Manchin wants harsh criminal penalties for those convicted of intimidating or threatening poll and election workers.

From the archives (March 2021): Republican lawmakers are seeking to exert control over local elections

Also (May 2021): Popular Democratic elections official in Iowa cites ‘partisan intimidation’ in abrupt resignation

“It’s a heavy lift, but if we continue to get people to talk there’s a path,” said Tillis, who said tensions over the Democrats’ failed voting bill will need to cool before coalition building can seriously begin. “We are going to have to have more Republicans get on board because there are going to be protest votes.”

But at its core, many Republicans want any legislation to primarily focus on the Electoral Count Act.

“This is directly related to Jan. 6,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Thursday. “It needs fixing.”

From the archives (June 2021): For the People Act alternative from Manchin includes voter-ID requirement, but McConnell is still opposed

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday called it “an old piece of law, so you can always modernize it.”

The bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is also working on a proposal.

As Trump’s legal appeals and efforts to pressure state and local officials ran out of steam, he began to focus on Mike Pence, who presided over the certification in Congress of the Electoral College results. Trump spent days in a futile bid trying to convince Pence that the vice president had the power to reject electors from battleground states that voted for Biden, even though the Constitution makes clear the vice president’s role in the joint session is largely ceremonial.

Key Words (October 2021): Mike Pence labels continued focus on Jan. 6 an attempt to ‘demean’ Trump supporters

Separately, he encouraged Republican lawmakers to take advantage of the low threshold to lodge objections to the outcome. Even after rioters fought in brutal hand-to-hand combat with police as they lay siege to the Capital on Jan. 6, 147 Republican lawmakers later voted to object to Biden’s win.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, is working on a bill that would shore up several key vulnerabilities in the Electoral College process.

Any legislation should make clear the vice president holds only a ceremonial role, limit the scope of Congress’s involvement in the certification of the election and narrow the grounds for raising an objection to a state’s results, according to a summary provided by his office.

Civil-rights activists don’t object to the revisions. But they question the value of the effort if Republican-controlled states can still enact voting restrictions.

“It doesn’t matter if your votes are properly counted if you cannot cast your vote in the first place,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Georgia Democrat who is also pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist, the church the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once led.

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