Corbett: Change in electoral votes going nowhere

The move to divide the presidential vote by congressional district is stalled, he said.

Posted: November 22, 2011

HARRISBURG - A Republican-sponsored proposal to change how Pennsylvania's electoral votes are counted in next year's presidential election appears to be running out of steam.

Gov. Corbett, a key supporter of the idea, suggested Monday that it was going nowhere for the time being.

"I see no movement on it. I'm not going to push for movement, but I still support it," Corbett, a Republican, told a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

The proposal surfaced in September, with Corbett marketing it as a way to more fairly divide electoral votes to reflect the preferences of Pennsylvania's voters. It split Republicans and drew heavy criticism from Democrats, who called it a partisan attempt to hurt President Obama's reelection campaign and to minimize the influence of the state's large number of registered Democrats.

It would ditch the current system of awarding Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes to the winner of the state's popular vote in the 2012 presidential election. Rather, candidates would win an electoral delegate for each of 18 congressional districts they carry, and the winner of the statewide vote would gain two more electoral votes.

The bill, if it became law, would guarantee that a Republican won an electoral vote in Pennsylvania for the first time in 24 years. Depending on how the congressional districts are drawn - and Republicans are in control of that process - a Republican presidential candidate could collect a majority of the state's electoral votes despite losing the statewide popular vote.

However, the bill would be a gamble by Republicans that the party's presidential candidate won't win the state's popular vote. Democrats have won every election since 1988.

The bill is in the Senate State Government Committee but is not scheduled for a vote.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, the bill's sponsor, responded to Corbett by saying that advancing the bill would require a considerable effort by the Senate, the House, and the governor.

"At this time, my primary focus is completing our work on legislation regarding education reforms, the Marcellus Shale industry, and transportation funding," wrote Pileggi (R., Delaware). "When those items are finished, we can revisit the Electoral College reform legislation, although I do not believe there will be sufficient time to advance it this year."

The plan hasn't been introduced in the House, and a spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said Monday only that the chamber's GOP majority would consider the bill when the Senate passed it.

At a hearing in October, two prominent political scientists said the proposal was sure to reduce voter turnout, destroy Pennsylvania's status as a battleground that draws the attention of presidential candidates, and weaken an already flawed electoral voting system by relying on a gerrymandered map of congressional districts.

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