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Progressive Group Robocalling 600,000 SEPA Republicans Over Pileggi Plan

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Are you a Republican in southeast PA? Do you vote on a fairly consistent basis?

If so, then the odds are you’ll soon be receiving a robocall urging you to oppose PA Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s controversial Electoral College plan. Pileggi has proposed switching Pennsylvania’s electoral votes from the current winner-take-all system, to one based on outcomes by congressional district.

“Some politicians in Harrisburg want to divide Pennsylvania’s votes between presidential candidates based on the number of congressional districts they win,” the call says.

“If this election-rigging scheme goes through, your vote will matter less, and it will hurt Pennsylvania’s importance as a key presidential state.”

Click here to listen to the entire ad.

Jeff Garis, the PA Political Director of America Votes, confirmed to PoliticsPA that the robocall buy is massive: targeted to approximately 600,000 SEPA Republican frequent voters.

According to its website, America Votes is a 527 organization that aims to, “advance progressive policies, expand access to the ballot, coordinate issue advocacy and election campaigns, and protect every American’s right to vote.”

The Electoral College was a hot topic in Harrisburg today. Former Senator and GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson came to town to plug the National Popular Vote Initiative (read PoliticsPA’s interview with Thompson here).

And Laura Olson of the Post-Gazette reports on this morning’s hearing of the PA Senate State Government Committee, where lawmakers debated the changes:

Luke Bernstein, deputy chief of staff to Mr. Corbett, [and former Executive Director of the PA Republican Party] said the current winner-takes-all system disenfranchises those who vote for the losing presidential candidate. He pointed to the 1988 election, in which Democrat Michael Dukakis lost by only 100,000 votes in Pennsylvania to Republican George H. W. Bush, but that all 25 electoral votes went to Mr. Bush.

“We need to let each voter and each region of this state choose which candidate they think best represents their interests,” Mr. Bernstein said.

But a panel of political scientists from two Pennsylvania colleges suggested that the switch would potentially decrease voter turnout, particularly in districts that are heavily dominated by one political party.

That change also is flawed in its reliance on congressional districts, which Chris Borick of Muhlenberg College in Allentown described as “gerrymandered monstrosities” that are “the product of partisan efforts to secure certain outcomes.”

Here’s the full call transcript:

I’m calling on behalf of America Votes about Pennsylvania’s role in electing the President of the United States.

In sports, it’s common sense that the team that scores the most points wins. It’s also common sense that Pennsylvania’s electoral votes should go to the candidate who gets the most votes.

But some politicians in Harrisburg want to divide Pennsylvania’s votes between presidential candidates based on the number of congressional districts they win.

If this election-rigging scheme goes through, your vote will matter less, and it will hurt Pennsylvania’s importance as a key presidential state.

Push 1 if you will join me in keeping Pennsylvania’s importance as a key state and oppose this proposal.

Paid for by America Votes PA. 610-310-7551

6 Responses

  1. In Pennsylvania, the National Popular Vote bill has been introduced in both the House (HB 1270) and Senate (SB 1116).

  2. Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution allows the State Legislatures to appoint presidential electors in any manner that they may direct. Senator Pileggi (R-Delaware County) can constitutionally formulate any cockamamie plan he chooses to distort the will of the majority of qualified electors in the Commonwealth. But, a bipartisan consensus has arisen against this idea.
    There are 538 electoral votes and the number given to each state reflects the sum of the representatives and senators it sends to Congress. It takes 270 or more electoral college votes to win the Presidential election. The biggest states, California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, have the most impact on the result of the presidential election.
    The Pileggi plan would drop Pennsylvania from fifth place down to the level of Tennessee and Alabama or Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. The Pileggi plan would make into law the exact description of Pennsylvania as spoken by that noted Cajun raconteur and bon vivant James Carville, to wit, “Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in the middle!” As a proud Pennsylvanian, I object to the diminution of this Commonwealth.
    Pennsylvania has a special place in American history. It was the centerpiece of the Revolution, the home of Independence, the first capitol of the United States, the home of the first oil well, the head of the industrial revolution, the site of the turning point battle of the Civil War, the site of the first fight against terrorism, and it is about to become a major energy supplier again moving from coal to the Marcellus Shale gas fields. It was and remains the “Keystone State” for good reason.
    Senator Pileggi’s ill conceived plan ignores the cultural, industrial and political heritage of the Commonwealth for partisan political gains. Worse, it would erode all of that.
    The Pileggi plan will select presidential electors on the basis of the election returns in the each congressional district and the remaining two votes by statewide majority. Pileggi ignores the fact that we are electing the “President of the United States” not a congressman or woman from a Pennsylvania district that includes multiple counties where the human population (read- urban areas- Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and their surrounding suburbs) is outweighed by the white tailed doe population (read- the Pennsylvania T and Marcellus Shale region).
    The Pileggi Plan, wants to turn back the clock to the time prior to the United States Supreme Court decisions in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) and Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, (1962). In Baker v. Carr, supra, the Supreme Court decided that federal courts could address legislative reapportionment issues. [Under that legal theory and by analogy, the Pileggi plan would be open to attack in federal court.] That case arose out of the great state of Tennessee. Reynolds v. Sims established the “one person, one vote” rule. That case arose out of the great state of Alabama. Baker v. Carr, Reynolds v. Sims and its progeny fundamentally altered the nature of political representation in America, requiring not just Tennessee but nearly every state to redistrict during the 1960s, often several times. This re-apportionment increased the political power of urban areas and reduced the influence of more rural areas. Now is not the time to turn back the clock. Pileggi is obviously ignoring the growth in Pennsylvania’s two largest cities and their suburbs and more specifically the more recent growth in Eastern Pennsylvania, especially the counties that border the Delaware River and its influx of “foreigners” from New Jersey and New York.
    Any sensible change in the Electoral College should come by way of an amendment to the United States Constitution and thus addressed by all 50 states concurrently rather than Pennsylvania flying solo with the likelihood of crashing and burning the political clout of Pennsylvania in the process. I respectfully suggest that Senator Pileggi mull that option instead.
    In my lifetime in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth has lost one Congressional seat in each decade of the United States census and thus lost one electoral vote also. I would not like to age 100 years overnight and see Pennsylvania vital political heritage in presidential politics dissipated while I slept and had an awful nightmare. Even the late Republican United States Senator and Philadelphia political boss Boise Penrose would be spinning in his grave if this bill were to pass.
    There is good reason, actually 12,702,379 of them, why this proposed bill has attracted widespread opposition. I say: keep Pennsylvania’s proud and lengthy national stature intact and kill this bill.

  3. 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.

    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 for a national popular vote 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%.

    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.

  4. 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.

    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.

    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, looks better and better.

    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.

    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.

  5. I love the proposed electoral plan. Anytime we can reduce the pool that our vote goes in the better. The only real way to fix this would be constitutional amendment but we can not wait that long. Who listens to political scientists anyway? This proposal makes the voter more powerful and the pundit less powerful.

  • Reader Poll: Should President Joe Biden Step Aside?

    • Yes. He should step aside because of his age, declining ability to do the job. (45%)
    • No. He should not step aside. (39%)
    • Yes. He should step aside because he can't beat Donald Trump. (15%)

    Total Voters: 231

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