Pa. GOP Electoral Vote Plan Touches Nerve

Wednesday, 14 Sep 2011 11:52 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Pennsylvania Republicans are hoping to join Maine and Nebraska in allocating presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than the normal winner-take-all approach that most states use to elect the president.
Republican state lawmakers say the change they hope to vote on this fall in time for the 2012 presidential election will make the process fairer and more representative, according to a report Wednesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
But Democratic state lawmakers say the GOP electoral plan is not only “blatantly political” to give Republican candidates an advantage, but would “diminish the state’s role in deciding who occupies the White House.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, however, told the newspaper the Democratic argument about which party would have most political clout “is secondary to making sure that individual voters have a say in who the president is.”
Pennsylvania currently awards all of its electoral votes to the presidential and vice presidential candidates who win the most votes statewide. But under the GOP plan, the electors would be decided district-by-district.
After redistricting, the state will have 18 congressional districts and a total of 20 electoral votes — one from each district and two at large. The GOP plan would apportion the at-large votes based who wins the overall popular vote.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who is also a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told the Inquirer that the Republican plan “is not a bad idea in concept, if all 50 states adopted it as the same time.”
“But for Pennsylvania to do it by itself would be a disaster,” he said. “Right now, in a general election, Pennsylvania is one of three states that basically decides the election.”

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