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Pennsylvania GOP Pushes To Alter Electoral College Math
Pennsylvania Republicans are pushing for a change in how their state awards its Electoral College votes, a measure that has left political strategists struggling to determine which party would benefit from an altered playing field in 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The proposal would end Pennsylvania's reliance on the winner-take-all system used in almost all states, in which the top vote-getter statewide wins all of the state's electoral votes. The current system generally turns presidential elections into 51 separate contests -- a battle to win each state, plus the District of Columbia -- as the candidates try to reach the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory.
Under the Pennsylvania proposal, the winner in each of its congressional districts would get one Electoral College vote, with the winner statewide claiming two additional votes.
Dominic Pileggi, the Pennsylvania Senate majority leader, said the measure does not benefit one party and is meant to expand the individual voter's voice in presidential elections. Some 2.6 million Pennsylvanians voted for Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008, but he won none of the state's electoral votes.
"A large portion of the popular vote is not reflected in any way in the Electoral College," Pileggi said.
Originally posted by zooplancton
EC, one WAY out dated architecture.
I'd like to see a vote per vote count for elections. no need to reserve space for people that live in rural areas that can't get to voting stations... it really is time for change.
For years, Sabato has studied the Electoral College and contemplated changes such as the one proposed by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
Sabato, a political scientist, brings no partisan or ideological objective to the controversy. His conclusion? Addressing Electoral College issues piecemeal is not in the national interest.
"You do not want an individual state, particularly a highly populated one like Pennsylvania, going off and freelancing and coming up with a separate system all by themselves," Sabato told me in an interview this week. "Because in any close election, that can make a difference, and they could end up electing another president who loses the popular vote, and that is not healthy for the country. Everyone agrees on that."
Sabato acknowledges the problem of a presidential candidate winning 45 percent of a state's popular vote but receiving no electoral votes. However, he thinks proponents of change are missing something: the effects of redistricting, which skews the popular vote.
Sabato illustrates his concern by pointing to Ohio, which he calls "as close to an evenly divided 50/50, superswing state" as you can find.
"But what is the redistricting plan for new House of Representatives [districts] starting in 2013?" he asks. "It's 12 Republicans and four Democrats. That's right. You would think it would be eight Republicans and eight Democrats, based on voting patterns."
And, he says, if that is the voting representation by electors, Ohio would always lean toward the GOP despite its even divide.
Further, if the Pennsylvania proposal had been in force during past elections, results could have been profoundly different. According to Sabato, John F. Kennedy would have lost decisively to Richard Nixon in 1960. In 1976, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter would have tied in the Electoral College despite the Democrat's 1.7 million-vote edge in popular votes.
"What you are going to produce if you go to this kind of system is far more cases of a president losing the popular vote but winning in the Electoral College," Sabato says. "Does anyone want to move in that direction? It is a formula for divisiveness."
Dumping the EC system would take a Constitutional Amendment. Congress hasn't been able to summon up the votes for that in generations and I can't see that happening today. The best chance for making the system more democratic (and hopefully, less corrupt) is for the states to exercise their authority over the way in which these votes are awarded. Nothing in the Constitution says the states have to use a "winner take all" system.