Poll: Senate election reform bill more popular than House version

Americans educated on congressional proposals aimed at preventing another Jan. 6 attack prefer the Senate reforms to the more far-reaching House bill, the University of Arizona’s National Institute on Civil Discourse found in an informed opinion poll conducted over the summer.

The House and Senate have drawn up competing bipartisan proposals that would change how the votes of Congressional electors are counted.

Although the two bills are similar, they differ in what is known as the objection threshold.

Current law allows one member of parliament and one member of the senate to challenge an elector or voter list, making it relatively easy for a minority of politicians to question the legitimacy of the election. This is exactly what happened before the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Parliamentary legislation would raise the objection threshold to one-third of each house; The Senate measure would raise that to one-fifth of each chamber.

In the informed opinion poll – unlike traditional polls where participants read detailed policy instructions before taking a position – 75% of participants supported raising the threshold to one-fifth of each chamber. That figure included 93% Democrats, 77% independents and 53% Republicans.

Only 55% of respondents supported a stricter one-third threshold. Among them, 72% were Democrats, 59% were independents, and 37% were Republicans.

Senators introduced their legislation in July and believe it has the best chance of becoming law because it has enough Republican support to avoid a filibuster. Senate negotiators added two more co-sponsors to their measure Thursday, with Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) becoming the 21st and 22nd co-sponsors.

The legislation will face the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday, but the proposal is unlikely to see a floor vote in the upper house until midterm elections.

Meanwhile, the full house released its version this week and passed it by a vote of 229-203 on Wednesday. Nine Republicans joined in support of the measure, with all but one Democrat abstaining.

The path forward is unclear, but reform supporters hope an update to the 1887 Election Counting Act will reach the president’s desk before newly elected members of Congress take office in January.

The survey also found that additional provisions by Congress are generally popular. The explanation that the vice president’s role in counting the elections is a minister received 89 percent support. The idea that lawmakers must follow laws on the books on Election Day, barring a catastrophic event, got 80% support, and provisions requiring Congress to follow court rulings and limit objections to state voter rolls got 78% and 77% support. , respectively.

The survey initially asked participants about the one-third and one-fourth objection thresholds. The latter is not being considered by either chamber, but this week a question about the one-fifth objection threshold was added and participants who had already completed the brief and questionnaire were asked to respond by email. This sample size is approximately 900 participants, but the results are almost identical to the full sample of responses to the one-quarter threshold question, suggesting to participants that the one-third threshold is too high.