Split­ting vote dumb

Public Spirit - - OPINION -

You’ve heard the old cliché: Be care­ful what you ask for, you just might get it.

Repub­li­can Penn­syl­va­nia law­mak­ers might want to keep that in mind as they con­tinue their re­lent­less, thus far quixotic, ef­forts to game the state’s elec­toral sys­tem to “help” GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

)LUVW FDPH WKH KDP-fiVWHG DnG KRUULEOy LPSOHPHnWed soter ID rule, de­signed to de­liver the state to Mitt Rom­ney (as a Penn­syl­va­nia House leader was caught on video ad­mit­ting).

Next was the pro­posal to award the state’s elec­toral votes by con­gres­sional district — as op­posed to the win­ner-take-all method that Penn­syl­va­nia and the vast ma­jor­ity of other states cur­rently have in place.

If that had been in place in the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Mitt Rom­ney would have “won” Penn­syl­va­nia, gain­ing more elec­toral votes than Pres­i­dent Obama — de­spite the fact that Mr. Obama had a solid ma­jor­ity of the statewide vote. That’s be­cause Repub­li­cans have done a very ef­fec­tive job of ger­ry­man­der­ing con­gres­sional dis­tricts in the state.

Now comes a “new and im­proved” elec­toral pro­posal from state Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Pi­leggi. Un­der Sen. Pi­leggi’s new plan, the elec­toral votes would be awarded pro­por­tion­ally ac­cord­ing to the statewide vote. Eigh­teen of those elec­toral votes would be awarded pro­por­tion­ally, with two more awarded to the statewide win­ner.

That’s a lit­tle bit bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous plan. The “loser” of the statewide vote couldn’t win the state un­der such a sce­nario. But what is the virtue of this idea? It ba­si­cally takes Penn­syl­va­nia off the ta­ble as a na­tional player in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Rather than get the at­ten­tion of can­di­dates as a nom­i­nal “swing state,” a prized big-state elec­toral cache, it will be ig­nored by can­di­dates. It would al­ways be a vir­tual wash for the ma­jor party can­di­dates.

It seems Repub­li­cans think that if they can get at least a hand­ful of elec­toral votes out of Penn­syl­va­nia, that would be a win for the party can­di­date. Per­haps. Or per­haps this sys­tem could lead to a nar­row pres­i­den­tial loss for some fu­ture GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. In­stead of get­ting all of the hey­stone state’s elec­toral votes, that can­di­date would get just a share — and that could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing a na­tional elec­tion.

If the mo­tive for chang­ing the sys­tem is to bet­ter UHflHFW WKH wLOO RI WKH HnWLUH 3Hn­nVyOYDnLD HOHFWRUDWH,

there’s a much bet­ter way to ac­com­plish that: Sign on to the Na­tional Pop­u­lar sote ini­tia­tive.

Here’s how it works: En­abling leg­is­la­tion is passed in states promis­ing to award all of that state’s elec­toral votes to the win­ner of the na­tional pop­u­lar vote. That change is put on hold un­til states with 270 elec­toral votes — enough to win the pres­i­dency — pass the en­abling leg­is­la­tion.

No con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment is needed.

There’s no need to ex­pel the Elec­toral Col­lege.

So far, that leg­is­la­tion has been passed by states with 132 elec­toral votes.

Once the ini­tia­tive be­comes ac­tive, we can be as­sured that the win­ner of the na­tional pop­u­lar vote will win the elec­tion — and that ev­ery­one’s vote for pres­i­dent counts, whether they live in the cities or out in the coun­try­side. Whether they live in Texas, a “red” state, Mas­sachusetts, a “blue” state, or Penn­syl­va­nia, a “pur­ple” state. Most peo­ple — con­ser­va­tive or lib­eral — can agree that the per­son who gets the most votes na­tion­wide should be pres­i­dent.

Pass­ing Na­tional Pop­u­lar sote leg­is­la­tion would be a much more pro­duc­tive ef­fort on the part of Sen. Pi­leggi and his GOP col­leagues.

$nG Puch OHVV OLNHOy WR EacN­fiUH on them later.

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