ICYMI: The Power Behind Electoral College Plan

By Brittany Foster, Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: In case you missed it, one of the the most interesting aspects of the Republican plan to split PA’s electoral votes is the high-powered, bipartisan group behind it. Capitolwire and Capitol Ideas had this story last Thursday, and we here at PoliticsPA just realized we hadn’t posted this article.

PA Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s legislation to change the Electoral College in PA has experience a meteoric rise to infamy, many thanks to the people behind it.

The group pushing the bill is known as All Votes Matter and has already spent nearly $200k on their efforts in Pennsylvania. The spokesman of this group is Charles Gerow, a high powered political consultant known for his work on the Republican side. Gerow’s firm, Quantum Communications, Long Nyquist and Obermeyer-Rebman have joined together to form All Votes Matter’s triumverate of lobbying and communications.

For this year alone, the group has budgeted a third of a million dollars in order to get this legislation through the House and Senate. However, they have refused to release the names of their donors. Gerow has admitted that he believes most are from within Pennsylvania.

Despite it’s rapid fundraising and media coverage, All Votes Matter has only been in official existence since it filed to lobby in May of this year. Geared toward “civic minded individuals,” many suspect that its inception was to fight the National Popular Vote compact that has also gained steam this year.

The National Popular Vote legislation would enter Pennsylvania into the commitment to allocate all of its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, obviously. States representing 132 votes have already joined the compact and Rep. Creighton introduced it to Pennsylvania this past summer. Fomer Casey staff and current communications professional Tony May speaks on behalf of this legislation and assures voters that it is both constitutional and upholds the idea of “one man, one vote.”

Both plans have their strong supporters and opponents but Sen. Pileggi is less than thrilled about the current conversation surrounding his bill.  “I’m disappointed that the people aren’t focusing on the issue. Usually when people start to talk about motive and personalities, that means they’ve conceded that the issue is not something they can argue about. I’ve tried to focus the conversation on the issue of proportionality and the issue of the disconnect between the popular vote and the electoral college vote.”

All Votes Matter and National Popular Vote, both represented by PA political titans, are sure to continue to butt heads as they both try to change Pennsylvania’s presidential politics.

September 28th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Presidential | 2 Comments

2 thoughts on “ICYMI: The Power Behind Electoral College Plan”

  1. oldgulph says:

    Given the choice, most Pennsylvania and U.S. voters want a national popular vote.

    A survey of 800 Pennsylvan­ia voters conducted on December 16-17, 2008 showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.
    Support was 87% among Democrats, 68% among Republican­s, and 76% among independen­ts.
    By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 81% among 46-65 year olds, and 78% for those older than 65.
    By gender, support was 85% among women and 71% among men.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states wins the presidency.

    National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state and district (in ME and NE). Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate.

    With National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere would be counted equally for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). A Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support is strong among Republican voters, Democratic voters, and independent voters, as well as every demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground States: CO– 68%, IA –75%, MI– 73%, MO– 70%, NH– 69%, NV– 72%, NM– 76%, NC– 74%, OH– 70%, PA — 78%, VA — 74%, and WI — 71%; in Small States (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE –75%, ME — 77%, NE — 74%, NH –69%, NV — 72%, NM — 76%, RI — 74%, and VT — 75%; in Southern and Border states: AR –80%, KY — 80%, MS –77%, MO — 70%, NC — 74%, and VA — 74%; and in other states polled: CA — 70%, CT — 74% , MA — 73%, MN – 75%, NY — 79%, WA — 77%, and WV- 81%.

    On Election Night, most voters don’t care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district… they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was directly and equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans consider the idea of the candidate with the most popular votes being declared a loser detestable. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR (6), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), ME (4), MI (17), NV (5), NM (5), NY (31), NC (15), and OR (7), and both houses in CA (55), CO (9), HI (4), IL (21), NJ (15), MD (10), MA(12), RI (4), VT (3), and WA (11). The bill has been enacted by DC, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington. These nine jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

  2. oldgulph says:

    Republican legislators seem quite “confused” about the merits and fairness of the congressional district method. The leadership committee of the Nebraska Republican Party just adopted a resolution requiring all GOP elected officials to favor overturning their district method for awarding electoral votes or lose the party’s support. While in Pennsylvania, Republican legislators insist we must change from the winner-take-all method to the district method.

    And up in Maine, the only other state beside Nebraska to use the district method, earlier this year, Republican leaders proposed and passed a constitutional amendment that, if passed at referendum, will require a 2/3rds vote in all future redistricting decisions. Now they want to pass a majority-only plan to make redistricting in their favor even easier.

    These obvious unprincipled partisan attempts to make the current system even less fair, makes the case for the National Popular Vote plan all the stronger.

    Dividing Pennsylvania’s electoral votes by district would magnify the worst features of the system and not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania.

    The district approach would provide less incentive for presidential candidates to campaign in all Pennsylvania districts and would not focus the candidates’ attention to issues of concern to the whole state. Candidates would have no reason to campaign in districts where they are comfortably ahead or hopelessly behind.

    Due to gerrymandering, in 2008, only 4 Pennsylvania districts were competitive.

    In Maine, where they award electoral votes by congressional district, the closely divided 2nd congressional district received campaign events in 2008 (whereas Maine’s 1st reliably Democratic district was ignored)

    In Nebraska, which also uses the district method, the 2008 presidential campaigns did not pay the slightest attention to the people of Nebraska’s reliably Republican 1st and 3rd congressional districts because it was a foregone conclusion that McCain would win the most popular votes in both of those districts. The issues relevant to voters of the 2nd district (the Omaha area) mattered, while the (very different) issues relevant to the remaining (mostly rural) 2/3rds of the state were irrelevant.

    When votes matter, presidential candidates vigorously solicit those voters. When votes don’t matter, they ignore those areas.

    Nationwide, there are only 55 “battleground” districts that are competitive in presidential elections. 88% of the nation’s congressional districts would be ignored if a district-level winner-take-all system were used nationally.

    If the district approach were used nationally, it would be less fair and less accurately reflect the will of the people than the current system. In 2004, Bush won 50.7% of the popular vote, but 59% of the districts. Although Bush lost the national popular vote in 2000, he won 55% of the country’s congressional districts.

    Awarding electoral votes by congressional district could result in third party candidates winning electoral votes that would deny either major party candidate the necessary majority vote of electors and throw the process into Congress to decide.

    Because there are generally more close votes on district levels than states as whole, district elections increase the opportunity for error. The larger the voting base, the less opportunity there is for an especially close vote.

    Also, a second-place candidate could still win the White House without winning the national popular vote.

    A national popular vote is the way to make every person’s vote equal and matter to their candidate because it guarantees that the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states becomes President.

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