Casey Opposes Electoral College Tinkering

Bob Casey campaign pic
Sen. Bob Casey

Bob Casey wants Pennsylvania to remain a winner take all presidential state. The Senator wrote Pa. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to voice his opposition to a longshot proposal to award the state’s electoral college votes proportionately.

Pileggi’s bill would divide 18 of the state’s electoral college votes according to the popular vote total, with 1 EC vote for approximately 5.6%. The statewide winner would get an additional 2 votes.

“If enacted, S.B. 538 would drastically alter the method by which the Commonwealth allocates its 20 electoral votes and diminish the historical role Pennsylvania has played in electing our Nation’s presidents. I respectfully urge you to reconsider this legislation,” Casey wrote.

“Several political scientists have asserted that by doing away with the current winner-take-all system, Pennsylvania’s influence would diminish, ceding power to the voters of other large, politically diverse states.”

He proceeded to prod Pileggi, if he does proceed with the law, to consider it slowly and publicly.

The plan is the product of a few years of pondering changes to the way Pa. picks a presidential winner. Republicans, chastened by five straight losses in the Keystone State, began considering different options in 2011.

Unlike previous proposals, this bill would not take into account the presidential results within congressional districts, as Nebraska and Maine do presently.

Democrats have accused the proposal of blatant partisanship. Indeed, since Casey penned his letter, the Democratic National Committee has emailed reporters no fewer than four news articles on the subject. Those emails follow dozens of similar ones since Pileggi unveiled his bill.

The Pa. Democratic Party has used the proposal to build its email list, encouraging those who oppose the bill to sign its online petition.

Pileggi has denied charges of partisanship, saying that the proposal is meant to generate conversation about reform.

“Senator Casey seems to have missed this fundamental point: There are no plans to advance the legislation at this time,” said Pileggi spokesman Erik Arneson. “If such plans develop, there will be a public hearing as the first step.”

2 Responses

  1. Pennsylvania is no longer a battleground state. We’ve joined the 80% of states and Americans who are merely spectators to presidential elections. We have no influence. That’s more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

    The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

    A survey of Pennsylvania voters 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).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    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). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO 68%, FL 78%, 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%, ID 77%, ME 77%, MT 72%, NE 74%, NH 69%, NV 72%, NM 76%, OK 81%, RI 74%, SD 71%, UT 70%, VT 75%, WV 81%, and WY 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR 80%, KY- 80%, MS 77%, MO 70%, NC 74%, OK 81%, SC 71%, TN 83%, VA 74%, and WV 81%; and in other states polled: AZ 67%, CA 70%, CT 74%, MA 73%, MN 75%, NY 79%, OR 76%, and WA 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  2. Awarding electoral votes by a proportional method fails to promote majority rule, greater competitiveness, or voter equality. Pursued at a state level, it would dramatically increase incentives for partisan machinations. If done nationally, it would sharply increase the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives.

    For states seeking to exercise their responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to choose a method of allocating electoral votes that best serves their state’s interest and that of the national interest, it falls far short of the National Popular Vote plan . . . – FairVote

    Republican legislators who want to split state electoral votes in states that have recently voted Democratic in presidential elections, do not want to split electoral votes in states that recently voted Republican in presidential elections.

    Obvious partisan machinations like these should add support for the National Popular Vote movement. If the party in control in each state is tempted every 2, 4, or 10 years (post-census) to consider rewriting election laws and redistrict with an eye to the likely politically beneficial effects for their party in the next presidential election, then the National Popular Vote system, in which all voters across the country are guaranteed to be politically relevant and treated equally, is needed now more than ever.

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