At the end of 2022, Congress enacted an omnibus appropriations bill that included the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, or ECRA. This bipartisan legislation updated the Electoral Count Act of 1887 that hadn’t been updated since it was enacted over a century ago.
The goal of the ECRA was to provide clearer guidance on counting electoral votes and resolving disputes. It did this by addressing both the federal and state sides of the Electoral College process.
Regarding the federal government, it creates a new threshold for congressional members to object to a slate of electors (one-fifth of members from the Senate and House) and identifies the role of the vice president as purely administrative. In addition, it requires Congress to defer to the slates of electors as determined by the states.
On the state side, the ECRA requires a state executive (usually the governor) of each state to send forward its slate of electors. However, it allows states to designate another official such as the secretary of state to fill this role prior to the election. It also requires states’ certificates of ascertainment (the official document identifying the slate of electors) to have some kind of security feature. Finally, it requires electors to meet the first Tuesday after the second Wednesday in December.
Because of these new requirements, several states have updated their statutes to align with federal law. Not all states will be required to adopt new statutes to align; it is up to the states to review the federal requirements and their existing processes.
Below is a table of state enactments relating to the ECRA.