The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 25, 2013

State senator seeks change in Pennsylvania's Electoral College allocations

HARRISBURG — A Republican leader in the Pennsylvania Legislature has renewed his politically charged effort to end the state's winner-take-all method of allocating its Electoral College votes for U.S. president.

The prospects for approval are unclear, as the measure has been blasted by Democrats as vote-rigging, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has not taken a position and the sponsor says the measure is not near the top of his list of priorities.

The bill introduced last week by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, made a change from a similar proposal that died in the last legislative session. Pileggi's latest proposal would apportion 18 of the 20 votes based on the percentage of votes the candidates draw in the statewide popular vote. The other two votes would go to the overall winner.

In the last session, Pileggi sponsored a proposal that would have divided the votes according to who won the 18 congressional districts.

Pileggi spokesman Erik Arneson said the approach would be unique among states — the two that currently do not employ a winner-take-all system, Maine and Nebraska, use the congressional district model.

"It's not a Top 10, it's not a Top 20 priority," Arneson said. "It's an issue we thought was worthy of additional debate and discussion."

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn said the plan would not help Republicans in the state, which has voted for the Democrat in presidential elections six times in a row, going back to 1992. The 12 other sponsors are all Republicans.

"This is not a popular proposal," Burn said. "People see through it for what it really is, cheating to win, and many folks in the Republican Party do not want to go near this thing."

Democratic President Barack Obama won all of the state's 20 electoral votes last year. He defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the state by more than 5 percentage points, or about 310,000 votes out of more than 5.7 million cast.

Third-party candidates who receive a threshold of votes, or about 6 percent, would collect at least one electoral vote.

Arneson said the next step would be a committee hearing, and that the bill will not be rushed through.

 

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