“The Bad Deal Democrats Should Take; Electoral-count reform is a narrow fix, insufficient for the many problems in the voting system—but it’s better than nothing at all.”

David Graham for the Atlantic:

Some ECA-reform advocates worry that even if Schumer was somehow able to get Manchin and Sinema to agree to sweeping reforms, including ECA updates, and pass them through the Senate on a party-line vote (with Harris’s tiebreaker), it would be a Pyrrhic victory. Edward Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University who has been one of the leading proponents of ECA reform, told me that the most important characteristic of ECA reform is not any of the details but that it be enacted with buy-in from both parties, so that both parties feel more bound to it come the next presidential certification.

“The method the Democrats are pursuing is this unilateral Democratic modification of the filibuster to then get Democrat-only votes for electoral reform,” he said. “That frankly is the kiss of death for ECA reform for this reason: Whatever else you think about other reforms, ECA reforms cannot be done by either party unilaterally, because the opposite party’s not going to accept that if it happens to be in power on January 6, 2025.”

Perhaps Foley is too optimistic about the prospects for Republicans following even their own ECA reforms, but if the alternative is to leave a menacing law in place, the gamble seems worth taking. And time is of the essence: The sooner the 2022 midterm election gets, and the more confident Republicans get of their chances of victory, the harder it will be to make any changes.

If Schumer accepts ECA reform at the risk of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, many in his party will pillory him for abandoning reforms that would protect the voting rights of Black Americans, Democrats’ most important bloc of voters. The charge is fair, and not passing either of these bills is an awful outcome as a matter of both governance and politics. But that disaster has already happened. The party began unified control of Congress by pushing the For the People Act, a sprawling and flawed messaging bill that leaders had no realistic plan to pass. The Senate then got bogged down for months in infrastructure negotiations that produced one very large package but has failed (so far) to produce a second, huge one. The reason the party finds itself in the current dilemma is that it never bothered to come up with a serious approach to combatting voter suppression.

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