Pileggi Wants Another Crack at Electoral College Change
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says frustrated Pennsylvania supporters of Mitt Romney deserve a more equitable way of counting presidential votes. He’s pushing once again to break up the state’s electoral college vote.
But instead of determining the votes by congressional district, they would be allocated according to percentage of the popular vote, plus two for the statewide winner.
“Currently, Pennsylvania uses a winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. My legislation would allocate electoral votes proportionately,” Pileggi wrote in a cosponsorship memo. “This advantage of this system is clear: It much more accurately reflects the will of the voters in our state.”
Under that system, Barack Obama would have won 12 of Pa.’s electoral college votes and 8 for Romney. That’s a net advantage of 4 EC votes for Obama versus the net 20 advantage Pa. gave him on election day. It would not have affected the outcome of the race nationally.
Pileggi told Bloomberg, “Anyone who voted for Governor Romney, and many Pennsylvanians did, does not have any reflection of that vote in the electoral college vote,” Pileggi said in a telephone interview. “This is a proposal that is not party specific or partisan in any way, but just an attempt to have the popular vote reflected in the electoral college vote.”
Federal law permits states to allocate their electoral votes as they see fit and this plan would require only normal legislation – no changes to the Pa. Constitution, etc. Presently, only Maine and Nebraska use other than a winner-take-all system.
The passage of the 2012 election rendered moot any of the criticisms of Pileggi’s 2011 proposal.
Update: Pileggi spokesman Erik Arneson says don’t expect a vote on January 1. “We believe this issue warrants additional debate and conversation, but it won’t be a top priority issue,” he said.
Democrats widely criticized Pileggi’s first plan as a partisan, election year power grab (no Republican presidential candidate has carried Pa. since 1988). While it certainly remains partisan, it’s far from a presidential year and so it is not last-minute.
Republicans criticized it, too, on three main points.
First, they thought a district-based system would subject swing district Republicans to inordinate presidential year pressure. This revised plan fixes that problem.
Second, some thought it was a subversion of the founders’ intent.
Finally, some – including the Chair of the PAGOP – opposed it because they thought a Republican was poised to win Pa. in 2012 and the plan would actually hurt the party. That… didn’t bear out.
And PoliticsPA gave the original plan a down arrow on the grounds that splitting the state would jeopardize Pa.’s battleground status by taking much of the state out of contention as far as campaigning. However, the large dropoff in presidential campaigning in 2012 nullifies that criticism, too.