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Public Law 104-79?

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  • Public Law 104-79?

    What does the Bill H.R.2527 (specifically Sec.3), which was passed into public law 104-79, mean in regards to the authority and role of the FEC in Presidential Elections?

  • #2
    Hi. I did some digging. I found the actions taken on that bill, which amended the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, specifically 52 U.S.C. 30104 (see source notes below text of statute) on Congress.gov: https://www.congress.gov/bill/104th-...esultIndex=120

    According to that information, there was a debate on this piece of legislation on November 13, 1995, which can be found in the Congressional Record, also available from Congress. gov: https://www.congress.gov/crec/1995/1...PgH12139-6.pdf

    To find out if any courts have interpreted this section of statute (i.e. what does a particular section of law "mean"), you can look us case law on Google scholar using the United States Code (U.S.C) citation in quotes on scholar.google.com, selecting "case law;" when I did the search, I got only 6 results: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?h...%2C31&as_sdtp=

    If that still does not satisfy your curiosity, you could always try contacting the FEC directly: http://www.fec.gov/pages/contact.shtml

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    • #3
      So I did email the FEC. They did not answer my question and told me to email the Electoral College. The EC told me that this had nothing to do with them and to ask the FEC again. Then someone from within the EC (a different person from the one who initially answered my email) told me to email the Clerk of the House of Representatives, who has not responded. The FEC responded again today, and again they avoided the aspect of the law that I was specifically asking about (why the votes are not being counted by the House as Section 3 of the 12th Amendment stipulates), saying "The law you cite allows political committees to file FEC reports electronically and eliminates the requirement to file duplicate reports with state election authorities."

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      • #4
        I'm sorry that you seem to be getting the run-around from these contacts, but those were the best avenues for trying to get more information for your inquiry, which stated here is different and probably more specific than it was in your first post, so I will try to help a bit further.

        So, the Public Law that you asked about in your first post is the United States Code section that I mentioned in my first reply: 52 U.S.C. 30104, and says the language that you quote about electronic filing and reports (see the title for that congress.gov link that I gave you before--that's the title of the Public Law that you asked about that amended the Code section 30104), so the FEC is not wrong, even if they're not more forthcoming...

        As to the Twelfth Amendment: I don't believe that it is broken down into sections like other Amendments. It looks like it's just a big block paragraph, even in our (admittedly old and out-of-date) Annotated Constitution: https://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/h...tml#amdt12_hd4. I presume that you are referring to this language:
        The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted
        , which, as read, doesn't necessarily specify that the House counts the votes, just that the votes are to be counted... and because law is a matter of interpretation, it should be taken into consideration that this language is (probably, purposefully) vague as to the how or by whom the votes are to be counted... The annotated constitution goes on to say
        As a consequence of the disputed election of 1870, Congress has enacted a statute providing that if the vote of a State is not certified by the governor under seal, it shall not be counted unless both Houses of Congress concur.
        and cites
        3 U.S.C. Sec. 15
        , but again, that refers to a specific occurrence of something.

        If you want to learn a little more about the 12th Amendment, the Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelft...s_Constitution) footnotes cite to the Annals of Congress, and so you might be able to find out more about what was meant by the Amendment upon its passing...

        If you would like more resources, I only ask that you try to elaborate a little further on what bit of information you're after, all while accepting that, as with so many things in the law, there might not be a definitive answer. If the Clerk of the House ever responds (note: you might have more luck with a phone call in terms of a more immediate response), I would be interested to see if they can shed any more light on this inquiry.

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        • #5
          Yes I agree the language was vague. So when the FEC just responded with a vague answer I posed my question more directly: Who officially counts the votes sent from states first? So are the counts reported from political parties in each state filed with the FEC directly? Before or after being reported to the House of Representatives?

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          • #6
            I think those are great questions. I hope that they do get back to you. I will do some digging and see if I can find any kind of information that might answer those questions. Stay tuned.

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            • #7
              I don't think that I'm finding anything that specifically addresses your questions. Here's what I'm finding:
              When you cast your vote for President, you are actually voting for a group of people known as electors. They are part of the Electoral College, the process used to elect the U.S. President and Vice President.
              The Electoral College serves as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
              from https://www.usa.gov/election, and
              After state election officials certify the popular vote of each state, the winning slate of electors meet in the state capital and cast two ballots—one for Vice President and one for President.
              from http://history.house.gov/Institution...toral-College/

              I also found a Congressional Research Service Report on Counting Electoral Votes (not popular votes): https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32717.pdf

              It looks like the counting procedure is done on the House floor:
              Procedure

              Since the mid-20th century, on January 6 at 1:00 pm before a Joint Session of Congress, the Vice President opens the votes from each state in alphabetical order. He passes the votes to four tellers—two from the House and two from the Senate—who announce the results. House tellers include one Representative from each party and are appointed by the Speaker. At the end of the count, the Vice President then declares the name of the next President.
              from http://history.house.gov/Institution...toral-College/

              And it looks like the FEC's role is either minimal or kept hush because this is what I found:
              Candidates must register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) once they receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of $5,000. Within 15 days of reaching that $5,000 threshold, candidates must file a Statement of Candidacy with the FEC authorizing a principal campaign committee to raise and spend funds on their behalf.
              from https://www.usa.gov/election

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