State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

State senator takes second run at changing electoral vote divvy

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 4, 2012 3:16 PM
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Photo by POLITICO.com

It’s take two for a state Senate plan to re-work how Pennsylvania awards its electoral votes. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi has signaled he’ll sponsor legislation similar to the proposal he introduced last fall, which aimed to allocate electoral votes by congressional district.

But members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation, mostly made up of Republicans, warned such a move would bring more outside spending and presidential campaign muscle in their districts, making their own re-elections tougher.

“Really much more significant than that were the general concerns we heard from people on both sides of the aisle about whether it was fair to tie presidential electors so closely to congressional districts, which obviously are going to change every ten years,” said Erik Arneson.

Pileggi’s latest plan is to award electoral votes proportionally to reflect the popular vote breakdown in the commonwealth. Had his proposal been in effect during the latest presidential election, President Obama would have received 12 of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, to reflect his 52 percent of the popular vote.

Pileggi’s earlier plan to award votes by the congressional district method created a media stir, and some Democrats thought its timing was suspicious.

“One of the criticisms we received was that it was too close to the presidential election,” said Arneson. “So in an attempt to eliminate that concern by introducing it now, clearly, we couldn’t be farther away from the next presidential election than we are right now.” Arneson added the hope is that reintroducing the bill now will facilitate a “less emotional” debate on the merits of the proposal.

Nebraska and Maine are the only states that don’t use the winner-take-all method for awarding their electoral votes.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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