WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats were picking up the pieces Thursday after their priority voting rights legislation collapsed, with some focusing on a closer bipartisan effort to fix laws that Donald Trump has exploited in his attempt to overturn the 2020 elections.

Although their bid to radically rewrite U.S. election law fell through in a high-stakes Senate showdown on Wednesday night, Democrats insisted their precarious approach had made the new effort possible, forcing Republicans to give in, even a little, and engage in bipartisan negotiations.

“I want to do more than just count votes for president. I want to make sure we’re counting the votes for everyone else. So canceling voters like they do in Georgia, I think that can be solved.

— Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina

The nascent push centers on the Electoral Count Act, an 1887 law that created the complicated process for Congress to certify presidential election results. For more than 100 years, the law’s vulnerabilities were an afterthought, until Trump’s relentless false claims that voter fraud cost him the 2020 election resulted in a mob of his supporters storming the Capitol.

An overhaul of the Golden Age statute could be the Democrats’ best chance to deal with what they call an existential threat to American democracy from Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election. But with serious talks only beginning in the Senate and winding down ahead of this year’s midterm elections, reaching a consensus could prove difficult.

“We know that history is on the side of the franchise, and we know that forcing leaders to take a stand will ultimately move the ball forward,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday.

See: Voting bill blocked by Republicans, Democrats not changing filibuster rules

Just a few weeks ago, many Democrats were adamant that the updated voter count law did not override their election laws. Updating the 1887 law, they pointed out, would do nothing to counter the Trump-inspired push in 19 states to make it harder to vote.

They still hold that position, but after the defeat of their landmark election bill, they are running out of options. Meanwhile, Trump loyalists are preparing for the next election, working to install sympathetic leaders in local electoral positions and, in some cases, backing political candidates who took part in the riot at the US Capitol.

Extract from the archives (March 2021): Voting rights escalate as partisan battleground, with Democrats pushing HR 1 and Republicans changing state-level election procedures

Biden admitted this week that the election bill update could be the best opportunity for Democrats to push voting legislation through a 50-50 Senate, where much of his agenda has stalled. . “I predict to you that they will do something,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday.

Any legislation should balance Democrats’ desire to end what they see as a GOP plan to make it harder for black Americans and other minorities to vote with Republicans’ entrenched opposition to increased federal oversight of local elections. .

Extract from the archives (September 2021): Pence sought advice from Quayle on ability to deny Jan. 6 certification of Biden’s election, book stories

“What other things could be put in there?” said South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I want to do more than just count votes for president. I want to make sure we’re counting the votes for everyone else. So canceling voters like they do in Georgia, I think that can be solved.

Republicans involved in the effort to update the voter count law acknowledge that the bill would need broader direction.

“It doesn’t matter if your votes are correctly counted if you can’t vote in the first place.”

— Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia

Susan Collins of Maine holds bipartisan talks in the Senate with Republicans Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Mitt Romney of Utah, alongside Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

“It’s such a necessary thing,” said Manchin, who added that the narrower scope was “the first place” Democrats “should have started.”

Manchin and Sinema effectively defeated the Democrats’ flagship bill on Wednesday, joining Republicans in voting against a rule change that would have allowed the party’s ballot legislation to pass by a simple majority.

Collins proposed new protections for election and election workers, some of whom received chilling security threats after the 2020 election. She also called for more funding for local elections. Manchin wants stiff criminal penalties for those found guilty of intimidating or threatening election workers.

Extract from the archives (March 2021): Republican lawmakers seek control over local elections

Also (May 2021): Popular Democratic Iowa election official cites ‘partisan bullying’ in abrupt resignation

“It’s a heavy burden, but if we keep getting people talking, there’s a way,” said Tillis, who said tensions around the Democrats’ failed vote bill will have to calm down before coalition building can begin in earnest. “We’re going to have to get more Republicans on board because there’s going to be protest votes.”

But at the grassroots level, many Republicans want any legislation to focus primarily on the voter count law.

“This is directly related to Jan. 6,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said Thursday. “It needs fixing.”

Extract from the archives (June 2021): For the People Act, Manchin’s alternative includes requiring a voter ID card, but McConnell still opposes

On Thursday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy called it “an old piece of legislation, so you can always modernize it.”

The House bipartisan committee investigating the Jan. 6 uprising is also working on a proposal.

As Trump’s legal appeals and efforts to pressure state and local authorities fizzled, he began to focus on Mike Pence, who presided over the congressional certification of the Electoral College results. Trump spent days in a futile attempt trying to convince Pence that the vice president had the power to reject voters in battleground states who voted for Biden, even though the Constitution makes it clear that the vice president’s role chair in the joint session is largely ceremonial.

Keywords (October 2021): Mike Pence labels continued to focus on January 6 an attempt to ‘put down’ Trump supporters

He also encouraged Republican lawmakers to take advantage of the low threshold to file objections to the result. Even after rioters fought a brutal hand-to-hand fight with police as they besieged the capital on Jan. 6, 147 Republican lawmakers went on to vote to oppose Biden’s victory.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucus with Democrats, is working on a bill that would reinforce several key vulnerabilities in the Electoral College process.

Any legislation should clarify that the vice president holds only a ceremonial role, limit the scope of congressional involvement in certifying the election, and reduce the grounds for objection to a state’s results, according to a summary provided by his office.

Civil rights activists do not oppose the revisions. But they question the value of the effort if Republican-controlled states can still enact voting restrictions.

“It doesn’t matter if your votes are correctly counted if you can’t vote in the first place,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Georgia Democrat who is also a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, the church of Reverend Martin Luther. King. Jr. once directed.