FairVote Takes on Idea to Reform Pennsylvania Voting

Pennsylvania in 2012, Source: Think Progress

Pennsylvania in 2012. Source: Think Progress

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania state Sen. Dominic Pileggi of Chester County floated an updated proposal of his 2011 idea to change the way Pennsylvania hands out its electoral college votes during presidential elections. Last year, he suggested votes be allocated by Congressional district (which, if enacted, would have seen Romney earn more votes than Obama this time around, even though he lost the popular vote). This year, Pileggi’s easing up and suggesting the electoral votes be handed out by proportionality of the popular Pennsylvania vote, instead of the current winner-take-all system. Both ideas are poor (and partisan), but a group called FairVote have put together an analysis on how to make the thinking behind such an idea, you know, work.

As Philadelphia Weekly reported shortly after after the election, Pennsylvania is one of those states where the tallies of partisan Congressional votes-to-representation in Congress did not work out too well. “Indeed, the fact that Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation next year will be 13 Republicans to five Democrats is an example of unfair disproportionality—as is the more general silencing of less partisan, centrist voices and the near total marginalization of third party perspectives,” notes FairVote. And the fact that we went red in Congress and blue for president is no coincidence. We’re a state divided. And while Pileggi’s plan would help national Republicans earn more nationwide Electoral votes every four years, it wouldn’t bring more Keystoners out.

“Even though Pennsylvania has gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1988 and even though it was relatively overlooked this year (without a single post-convention visit from either Barack Obama or his running mate Joe Biden), its statewide popular vote share was one of the closest to the national popular vote share—an outcome that indicates that if there had been a 50%-50% tie in the national popular vote, the Pennsylvania result would have been nearly dead even as well,” notes FairVote. “Under Pileggi’s plan, that 50-50 partisanship would become almost irrelevant, as no more than three electoral votes would likely be at stake in the state.”

Instead of dividing up certain states’ (in our case, a so-called swing state that’s always close, but sans cigar between those Republican chompers) Electoral Votes by proportion, FairVote suggests the Senator instead support the National Popular Vote plan, in which a states’ votes would be awarded to the candidate who wins the national popular vote—a move that would change the current election process from two candidates campaigning in six states to going after every vote, everywhere.

The plan has been endorsed, according to FairVote, by nearly 2,000 state legislators and several former U.S. Senators (as well as former Senator and current Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee.) Whether or not states approve of it, it wouldn’t make sense for the plan to go forward, nor would it be possible, until “enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).” More on these ideas, and Pileggi’s plan, soon.

3 Responses to “ FairVote Takes on Idea to Reform Pennsylvania Voting ”

  1. oldgulph says:

    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.


  2. oldgulph says:

    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 the country.

  3. oldgulph says:

    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.

    In 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. 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.

    More than 2,110 state legislators (in 50 states) have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the National Popular Vote bill.

    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 needed.

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

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