Among the voter suppression efforts currently being tossed around by the state legislature in Pennsylvania are bills in both the Senate and House which would award Pennsylvania’s electoral votes by congressional district in a presidential election, as opposed to the winner-take-all system that PA and 47 other states currently use.
So what does this mean? It means that the gerrymandering that has created republican-safe districts in the state would also impact presidential elections by ignoring the popular vote. In 2012, Obama won Pennsylvania by over 300,000 votes, or 5.4% – and he was awarded all 20 electoral votes from the state. Had the electoral vote scheme been in place, and every voter in PA had voted the same way, Romney would have been awarded 13 of PA’s 20 electoral votes in spite of losing the popular vote!
Similar plans have been discussed, or bills have been introduced, in Wisconsin, Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio. All of these are states with Republican governors and legislatures which cast their electoral votes for Obama in 2012. If all of these states had this system in place for the 2012 election, Obama still would have won the election but Romney would have received 47 more electoral votes – that would stack the deck against future Democratic presidential candidates almost as much as it would to automatically award California (with 55 electoral votes) to the Republican candidate!
The fact that no red states have floated this idea is proof that the only motivation in these proposals is to siphon off electoral votes from Democratic presidential candidates.
How else would this affect Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania would be rendered almost meaningless for presidential elections. Because redistricting has created so many safe seats (for Democrats in Philly, Pittsburgh, and Scranton, and for Republicans in the center of the state), the only electoral votes up for grabs in PA would be in the few swing districts, plus the two electoral votes that would be awarded to the statewide winner. That would make PA worth about as much as Rhode Island or West Virginia for a presidential candidate!
This scheme must be strongly opposed and soundly defeated in order to protect the integrity of democracy in Pennsylvania.
House Bill No. 94: Co-Sponsors Godshall, Grove, Kauffman, C. Harris, Barrar, Emrick, and Moul – Referred to committee on January 14h 2013. READ MORE.