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Before asking general concluding questions, the final policy question to consider is the linkage between the four election issues this brief has covered.

More than any other, the topic of Electoral Count Act updates is fueling the bipartisan effort to pass elections legislation in 2022. Despite the challenges the hard-fought mid-term elections create for bipartisan efforts this year, many Democrats and Republicans agree that clarifying the antiquated law is urgent and important.

Democrats are generally more interested in passing additional federal measures beyond ECA updates than Republicans. In fact, some Democrats say that they will vote against ECA legislation if Congress does not also pass additional elections legislation. Likewise, some Republicans say that they won’t vote for ECA legislation if it is tied to other federal legislative measures on elections.

The Case For

Supporters of linking elections measures argue that that nation’s critical election needs extend well beyond ECA updates. In fact, the most avid linkage supporters argue that the crucial needs extend even beyond the Presidential Transition Act, state and local elections funding, and election worker security measures discussed in this brief. Indeed, there have been serious bipartisan discussions, for example, about U.S. Postal Service reforms to support election mail and to prohibit deceptive practices such as sending out tweets or mailers falsely saying that the election is on Wednesday. Additional measures that attract Democratic support, but little Republican support, include protections against voter suppression and additional limits on actions by rogue state legislatures and governors.

Some who advocate voting against elections legislation that doesn’t include additional measures say that these provisions are so crucial to the proper functioning of our democracy that it is appropriate to leverage potential bipartisan consensus on ECA reform to secure their passage. Linkage proponents also argue that the main reason Republicans do not want to support additional measures is to deny Congress and the White House a success while they are controlled by Democrats. Opposition to the additional measures is simply about denying Democrats an achievement they can run on in the mid-term elections, they argue.

The Case Against

Linkage opponents argue first and foremost that it simply does not make sense to vote against any individual measure that one thinks is good for the country. They argue that if a member of Congress believes that the Electoral Count Act and/or other elections measures make sense for the country on their own merits, those measures deserve their yes vote. One should not let the perfect be the enemy of what is good and achievable, they suggest. Opponents of linkage argue that if the objective is to make the elections that are fundamental to our system of government by the people function more effectively, than every wise measure that is achievable in Congress deserves support.

Republicans who oppose Democratic linkage also argue that many of the elections measures that Democrats support would increase the federal role in elections beyond what is constitutional or appropriate. The Constitution explicitly charges state government with the responsibility for conducting elections, they observe. If the American people do not support what their state and local government is doing regarding elections, their recourse is to elect different state and local officials. Republican opponents of linkage argue that these are the principled reasons for opposing the other elections measures rather than denying Democrats an achievement to run on. In fact, some Republicans argue, it is the Democrats who are playing political games. Some suggest that Democrats would rather not pass sound measures like ECA reform that Republicans support so that they can blame Republicans for obstructing elections legislation.