A Republican sponsored change to the electoral vote system used to elect the president has Democrats gearing up for a fight when the General Assembly returns to session this Fall.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, called the proposal by Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (Delaware) a “blatant power grab that undermines good government.” And former Governor Ed Rendell called the Pileggi plan “partisan”, and said the state would surrender too much clout.
Under the plan, a presidential candidate would receive the same number of electoral votes as the congressional districts he won. Now, the candidate who wins Pennsylvania‟s popular vote captures all the votes.
Pileggi said in a statement announcing the proposed change that there is “no question that our current winner-take-all system for choosing electors does not reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania. This proposal will more fairly align Pennsylvania's electoral college votes with the results of the popular vote.”
The change would almost certainly favor Republican over Democratic candidates, who have won every statewide vote in presidential campaigns since 1988. The proposal would guarantee that a candidate would walk away with some electoral votes even if he loses the statewide, popular vote.
On the other hand, some in the GOP fear that funding to support candidates in Pennsylvania would plummet if the change is successful.
“Why should the party put a lot of money into Pennsylvania if winning the state doesn‟t mean winning all the votes,” said one Republican political consultant.
Pennsylvania will have 20 electoral votes next year, one for each of the 18 congressional seats, and two for each Senate seat.
In the end, the protests from the Democrats will carry little weight. The Republicans control both the House and Senate by large margins, and Republican Governor Tom Corbett said he supports Pileggi‟s proposal.