Congress

As lawmakers weigh how to safeguard the certification of elections from a future Jan. 6 attack, they’re facing one huge constitutional roadblock.

Electoral College ballot boxes arrive to a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election in the House Chamber on Jan. 6, 2021. | Erin Scott – Pool/Getty Images

By KYLE CHENEY

01/01/2022 07:00 AM EST

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The violent attack on the Capitol cost lives, threatened the transition of presidential power and forever changed the way Congress does its work. One year later, we at POLITICO are looking back at those changes and how Washington is moving forward.

Capitol Hill’s Jan. 6 investigators are exploring ways to Trump-proof future presidential elections by tightening up how lawmakers certify the results. There’s one problem: A future Congress might simply ignore them.

Lawmakers are required under the Constitution to finalize presidential elections by certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, which made that date a target for former President Donald Trump and his most fervent backers. That work is guided — as it’s been for more than a century now — by the Electoral Count Act, a complicated law passed after another rancorous White House race. But even at the time, there were deep questions about whether aspects of the law were constitutional.

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