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Pileggi Wants Another Crack at Electoral College Change

Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware)

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.

24 Responses

  1. This is not the kind of ideals of leadership that is need in America right now. With all the problems the Republicans have leaved us. We don’t need to fool around with how we pick the president now or in the future; this is just sore grapes from the party that lose.

  2. The way we do it now is the best way to do it, split votes does nothing for the state. If this is Sen. Dominic Pileggi idea of first
    priority, then its time he was voted out of office. So someone with real leadership ability could take over for him.

  3. To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. 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, without federal constitutional amendments.

    The bill adds up votes of all voters and the candidate with the most popular votes wins, as in virtually every other election in the country.

  4. if this is Pileggi’s top priority then we are all in trouble. Lets start by focusing on things we can do to promote business and Jobs!

  5. I see now that Pileggi intends to use the popular vote independent of CD’s. That is a step in the right direction, but can only be fair if all populous states do it. Piecemeal solutions (including the NPVI) are unlikely to work properly and the Electoral College must be abolished with a Constitutional amendment.

  6. More equitable—to him! In a close-enough Presidential election, it easily COULD make a difference. Does Pileggi really expect us to trust the same men responsible for the CD lines to implement his proposal? Also, Obama only did about as well here as in Colorado, so he should not take future greater-than average Democratic performance in Presidential elections for granted, lest the strategy backfire. This state may slowly be trending GOP in Presidential elections due to the sharp trend in that direction in small-to-medium-sized SW counties in particular.

  7. KM, in what way do the borders of the 6th, 7th, 12th, 15th, or 17th reflect natural borders or populations?

  8. 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. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    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 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

  9. I liked the initial idea, but I like this one better.

    It minimizes disenfranchisement [minority gets input, c/w views expressed two decades ago by Lani Guinier] while maximizing efficiency [obviating the need for extensive recounts].

    It provides a “reward” for the statewide winner reflective of the commonwealth’s delegation [senate/house] in D.C.

  10. It’s not the GOP’s fault that a majority of Democratic voters are concentrated in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. How do you redraw contiguous Congressional districts to spread Democratic voters into more seats? Lines shooting out from the Southeast corner of the state all the way to Harrisburg, State College, Williamsport, and Scranton?

    Also, for all those whining about a gerrymandered electoral college, reread the article and then reread your comments. Gerrymandering wouldn’t have any effect on a state wide popular vote.

    Lastly, for all those who complain about the role of money in politics, the desire to obtain the 50%+1st vote in a winner takes all election leads to substantially more electoral spending than we would see under this proposal. If you want money out of PA presidential elections, here’s a way to cut expenditures and annoying campaign ads.

  11. Pileggi ought to spend less time chasing windmills and work with Joe Watkins, potentially the next receiver to save the burning building that is the Chester School District. Save the school district, he might have a shot at saving the city. So bizarre that Republicans can’t see the opportunity amidst the chaos there.

    Stronger players around the country have brought back worse cities and school districts. Think Felix Rohatyn and NYC in the 1970’s.

    Get a grip Senator……

  12. I have an idea for Pileggi. Let’s allocate votes for U.S. Congress proportionally too. In 2010, more Pennsylvanians voted for Democratic congressional candidates than voted for GOP congressional candidates, yet we ended up with 7 Democrats and 12 Republicans in Washington. Now it’s 5 Dems and 13 Repubs. Pileggi and co. can’t contort the popular vote the way they contort the redistricting process. But they’ll keep trying.

  13. The Senator misses the point entirely. If, as he says, he wants a system that “more accurately reflects the will of the voters,” why not just call for an amendment to the U.S. constitution to abolish the electoral college? As someone recently suggested on a Washington Post blog, “we should politely retire a system that no longer enhances this experiment in democracy.” This is the real issue.

  14. He feels Romney disappointed supporters deserve a more equitable way to count presidential votes….How about you run on ideas and not just try to limit the vote and whine when you lose. With Citizens united they tried to buy the elections, now that failed they want to change how elections are run.

  15. Gerrymandered CD’s bad enough; now they want a gerrymandered Electroal Count which will often result in the Dem candidate winning the Statewide popular vote while the Rep candidate wins the PA Electoral College

  16. This proposal would protect the rights of the voters of the Commonwealth from the funny business that goes on unabated in Philadelphia. The barring of 75 minority inspectors from the polling places in unacceptable.

  17. So, he wants the vote to more accurately reflect the popular will? Then I suppose he’ll be fine adding an amendment that allocates congressional seats proportionally too, thus giving the democrats 4 more seats….hello? *crickets*.

  18. Policyguy and Observer, perhaps your anger has blinded you to the fact that this proposal has nothing whatsoever to do with Congressional districts. You may still hate it, certainly that is your right, but at least describe it accurately. This proposal would give 2 electors to the statewide winner and then distribute the other 18 in accordance with the split in the popular vote. It has nothing at all to do with Congressional districts.

  19. Stop trying cheat. Be leaders, follow the rules or get out. You are starting act like fascists.

  20. WOW!!! The GOP just doesn’t get it. They lose elections and instead of getting more in line with what the people want they try to cheat the system. They gerrymander the Congressional districts and now they want to allocate Electoral College Votes based on those gerrymandered lines. WHAT A CROCK!!! This is just as insulting as Turzai’s comments on putting Voter ID in place to help Romney. The GOP’s strategy is….CHEAT TO WIN!

  21. Allocating ECs proportionally means POTUS candidates stop paying attention to your state.

    It would take away from the increased spending a swing-state gets on paid ads, etc, but I suppose you’d see less annoying ads.

  22. Pileggi: D-Del? D, as in, Delusional? Copy Edit, Please!

    This sleazeball gerrymanders the heck out of congressional districts, so that our House contingent looks NOTHING like the Voting Population of the state – and he wants proportions based on those crooked gerrymanders?? What does he think we are, stupid?? Did he learn NOTHING from the utter failure of the Voter ID vote suppression boondoggle? People get ANGRY when you try to take away their votes, Dom, baby – and your own seat is at risk. Re-draw the districts, and THEN talk to us about proportions. What a moron.

  23. If reapportionment were done in a fair and reasonable way this might begin to make sense. But as it is apportioning electoral votes by Congressional district only underscores the problems with how Pennsylvania’s Congressional seats have been gerrymandered. Democrats won 51% of the votes cast in the Congressional elections, but only garnered 5 of the 18 seats. The districts are purposefully distorted to protect incumbents and create Republican seats, despite all of the Senator’s protestations to the contrary. And it is disingenuous to say that both parties would do this. First that shouldn’t be an excuse and second we don’t know that from experience because at least over the last 30 years, the Ds haven’t controlled the entire process like the Republicans have the last two times we went through reapportionment. Look at some of these districts: Why is Reading connected by an umbilical cord to Lancaster County and disconnected from the rest of Berks. There is no logical geography that explains the 6th and 7th districts. Why is Easton lumped in with Wilkes-Barre and Scranton and separated from the rest of the Lehigh Valley? Why is Hazelton not in the Same District as Scranton and Wilkes-Barre? Why is one part of the 3rd Ward in Susquehanna Township Dauphin County (a predominantly African American precinct) in a district that extends to the New Jersey border and the other part in a district that runs nearly to West Virginia. The final proof of the distortion: If the maps for the General Assembly would not have been blocked by the Supreme Court, the Senate Ds would have lost 2 seats rather than gaining 3. Maybe over 10 years some of the unfairness in these maps washes out, but that’s no reason to make this change.

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