Bob Casey Tells Harrisburg to Stop Messing Around with Electoral College

Senator Bob Casey Jr. has furrowed his bushy eyebrows over Harrisburg, condemning a Republican plan to change the allocation of the state’s electoral votes in presidential elections. “That we wouldn’t speak with one voice, the way we always have, would put us at a disadvantage,” Casey said.

Currently, as in most states, all 20 of Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes are awarded to the candidate who wins the majority of the state’s votes. In Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s plan, Pennsylvania would adopt a proportional system, in which candidates would split the votes, based on the percentage of the vote they won.

Naturally, Democrats are upset–under this system Mitt Romney would have received 8 votes (rather than 0) and Obama would have received 12 (2 would automatically be granted to winner, on top of the proportional victory) last year. But though the GOP-led bill is politically driven–and a more moderate version of an even more blatant proposal to skew the vote in their direction–it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if scaled nationally. As I wrote last month:

On its face, Pileggi’s statement that the system “much more accurately reflects the will of the voters in our state” is correct. This system actually brings America closer to a National Popular Vote–something liberals have long lobbied for. Here’s the problem–the effort to effect this sort of policy over the last couple years has taken place almost entirely in states that vote Democrat in presidential elections, but are controlled by Republican legislatures. In other words, in an ideal Republican world, red states like Texas would remain winner-take-all, and blue states would become proportional, thereby increasing only the number of GOP electoral votes. If every state went proportional (or better yet, if we got rid of the electoral college altogether), then Pileggi’s proposal would become quite a bit more palatable.

For now, though, the priority for Dems like Casey will be to nip this bill in the bud. [Inquirer]

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  • An analysis of the whole number proportional plan and congressional district systems of awarding electoral votes, evaluated the systems “on the basis of whether they promote majority rule, make elections more nationally competitive, reduce incentives for partisan machinations, and make all votes count equally. . . .

    Awarding electoral votes by a proportional or congressional district [used by Maine and Nebraska] method fails to promote majority rule, greater competitiveness or voter equality. Pursued at a state level, both reforms dramatically increase incentives for partisan machinations. If done nationally, the congressional district system has a sharp partisan tilt
    toward the Republican Party, while the whole number proportional system sharply increases the odds of no candidate getting the majority of electoral votes needed, leading to the selection of the president by the U.S. House of Representatives.

    For states seeking to exercise their responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to choose a method of allocating
    electoral votes that best serves their state’s interest and that of the national interest, both alternatives fall far short of the National Popular Vote plan . . .”


  • 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.

    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 presidential election system that we have today
    was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence
    of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    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

  • 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, is needed now more than ever.