Home General Influential Pennsylvania Legislator Will Introduce a Bill for Proportional Allocation of Presidential Electors
formats

Influential Pennsylvania Legislator Will Introduce a Bill for Proportional Allocation of Presidential Electors

Published on December 3, 2012, by in General.

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester) says he will introduce a bill to provide that the popular vote within Pennsylvania should be used to proportionally allocate presidential electors. Thus, if the Democrats got 55% of the total popular vote within the state, they would get 11 electors instead of all 20 of the state’s electors. See this story. Republicans control both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature and hold the Governorship. Here is a criticism of the idea by Rob Richie. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the links.

35 Responses

  1. Larry Allred

    This effort in PA and the reaction by Richie is perfect to showcase our rotten method for electing presidents and pure partisan motives. In Pa they want to help republicans get some of the electoral votes in the coming elections as opposed to getting none of them. There’s nothing virtuous about this, their doing it because they think the can, which is the story of most of our political-electoral regulation.

    Richie advances an argument that they should not do this, as if these a republican legislators cared about anything he cares about, they don’t, it’s just advantage seeking.

    The republican legislators don’t care about NPV, repealing the single member district law or any other good thing. That said, doing bad election law on the scale of the Electoral College has it’s benefits that ichie overlooks.

    So, instead of offering a defense of the current level of integrity of the EC system as it currently exists–that’s counterproductive as the status quo is integrity poor and doesn’t ever deserve any, even indirect, credit for being proper in any important sense.

    The benefit of the proposed change in PA is that is another example of an inferior system in action.

    When people explain the EC, they’ll now have to mention PA as well as NE and ME as departures from winner take all. That system CAN be in flux, we SHOULD discuss it.

    Action in PA underscores the system isn’t working well enough. Arguments that fewer parts of the electoral map will be in play is silly as much of the map is not in play now.

    And hey, if PA allocates electoral votes by overall percentage of popular votes garnered, maybe a non-major party candidate can get one or two of them simultaneously advancing that particular candidacy and showcasing further the crappiness of the EC system by heightning the chances of no one getting a majority and a look into the unacceptable realm of our system.

    The awful electoral college system must be showcased in the absense of leaders who will show us the way out now.

  2. Jeff Becker

    It wouldn’t be hard to put all of this information into a spreadsheet for all 50 states to see what difference, if any, this method would have made in the last election. Ditto for 2008, 2004, etc, to see the comparison over time.

  3. Demo Rep

    PA stuff = one more robot party hack de facto State gerrymander machination — posing as being pro-Democracy.

    Uniform definition of Elector-Voter in ALL of the U.S.A.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  4. Jed Siple

    I know this would help Republicans, but it could also help minor parties gain electors, and thus notoriety. Imagine if Ross Perot had gotten a share of the electoral college vote.

  5. :-)

    YES!!!!!! Proportional representation in the Electoral College NOW!

  6. Be Rational

    They should adopt the Maine/Nebraska system.

  7. Curt Boyd

    Republicans in PA are tired of losing every Presidential election, even though PA is a “swing state.” This will alienate the voters of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton and Harrisburg, who seem to vote Democrat and swing the state. If you live in PA, call your legislator and tell them not to support this bill!

  8. Drew

    All this will do is write Pennsylvania out of the presidential election by converting it from a swing state into a state with 19 safe electors and 1 swing elector. No major party candidate is going to campaign for one elector.

    For a minor party candidate to win an elector, they would need about 5% of the vote (assuming the bill doesn’t have some guard against that happening). In 2012, the highest vote total for any third party candidate was Gary Johnson with about 0.87%.

    If Pennsylvania wants its voters’ votes to matter, it should should join the national popular vote plan and adopt PR for its own legislature.

  9. Casual Bystander

    Just what do we need states for anyway? ???

  10. Slam In A Y-Trap

    This is even better than the Maine/Nebraska system.

  11. I’ve run the numbers for some previous elections.
    2008: Obama 280-243-1 (Nader with 1 EV from CA) Simulated result are 14 electoral votes short due to not knowing how States would award electors when no candidates percentage of the vote is large enough to round up.

    2000: Election goes to the House with Bush likely getting 259 or 261; Gore getting 257 or 261; Nader with 12. Simulated result are 4-10 electoral votes short due to not knowing how States would award electors when no candidates percentage of the vote is large enough to round up. In either case, neither candidate has enough EV’s to win should he receive all un-awarded EV’s.

  12. Also of interest the 1912 election:
    Wilson 222; Roosevelt 145; Taft 123; Debs 32
    un-awarded 9 (not awarded due to not knowing how States would allocate EV’s when no one had enough to round up)

  13. Be Rational

    @11 & 12 demonstrate why @10 is wrong.

    Every US State should adopt the Maine/Nebraska system of winning Electoral College votes.

    Expanding the size of the US House to at least 600 members would also help.

    @9 US States, the Federal system (although the Federal govt has become too strong relative to the states) and the Electoral College are all esssential elements in the preservation of liberty.

  14. Casual Bystander

    @13… relative to states and the federal system: what good are they? Without funding from the US government just how many would survive? Just what do they do to protect liberty?

  15. Drew

    #13: If electors were allocated by congressional district nationwide, Mitt Romney would have won the 2012 election handily despite losing the popular vote by over 4,000,000 votes. In fact, the Republican bias in House districts practically guarantees that Republicans would always win the White House, even if a strong majority of voters favored Democrats.

    See: http://www.fairvote.org/fuzzy-math-wrong-way-reforms-for-allocating-electoral-college-votes

  16. Be Rational

    @15 Any change in the electoral system will result in a change in how campaigns seek voters and in which voters vote, turnout, and how voters choose to cast their ballots. As a result, using past votes to predict what outcomes would have been under a different system is TRULY fuzzy math – it is, in fact, completely fallacious.

    When every electoral district is allowed to determine its own EV in the EC there will be a massive increase in turnout in most CDs since most will become competitive and unpredictable (it is much easier to swing a small CD than an entire state).

    Because of ticket splitting it is already common for a state or CD to elect a representative from one party while giving its Presidential plurality to another. This would increase under the Maine/Nebraska system.

    Likewise, voters will be much more concerned in how they cast their votes since their CD will more likely be in play and there will be less polling to predict outcomes in every CD meaning there will be more uncertainty.

    Candidates, in turn, will have to campaign in nearly every state since nearly every state will have CDs in play in the election.

    As a result, we cannot even assume that under a different electoral system, such as the ME/NE system, that the parties would have nominated the same candidates – even the tickets would have affacted, and different.

  17. Be Rational

    @15 BTW, the authors of the nonsense paper you have cited are supporters of the faulty National Popular Vote plan and have ingnored reality in their paper. Their biases have led them to make faulty assumptions, use poor logic and ignore the change in human response that comes after an institutional change. Rational expectations tells us they are wrong. The authors’ are biased and essentially snake-oil salesmen for NPV.

  18. Jed Siple

    PROPORTIONAL ELECTORS 2012
    Barack Obama – 271
    Mitt Romney – 259
    uncommitted – 7
    Gary Johnson – 1

  19. I’d prefer a system in which each Elector is listed on the ballot and voters are allowed to choose one Elector for each EV in that State. Then the top X number of Electors are chosen, this would allow for the possibility of a State electing Electors from multiple Presidential slates.

  20. Drew

    #16: My concern is not that Mitt Romney would have won under district allocation. My concern is that district allocation makes it so that a candidate can lose hugely in the popular vote and still win based on how the lines are drawn.

    You seem to underestimate the power of partisanship in predicting outcomes. Instead of safe and swing states, under congressional allocation we would have safe and swing districts. Given what can be accomplished with gerrymandering and the incredible incentives for gerrymandering that district allocation would foster, I suspect we’d see more safe than swing districts over time. Anyway, there tends to be a Republican bias in single-seat districting even without gerrymandering because of how Democrats and Republicans tend to naturally group themselves (Democratic voters clump together much more than Republican voters).

    Your optimism about how differently voters would behave after candidates started campaigning in districts strikes me as unfounded. Increased turnout does not turn every district into a swing district; most districts just have heavily partisan voting populations.

    National Popular Vote would turn the entire country into one swing nation where every vote counts equally and every vote matters. A single popular vote is how every state elects its governor, and it’s how every other country that elects its chief executive does so.

  21. Jeff Becker

    Darryl, Thanks for running the numbers. I’d like to see each state create unique presidential elector districts that are not the same as congressional with NO at large electors. Then, everyone votes for just THEIR particular presidential elector. Each presidential elector candidate would busy themselves campaigning in their own district. There could be no discrimination against minor parties for a “crowded ballot” reason.

  22. Demo Rep

    The 1787 Electoral College LUNACY was copied from the Electoral College machinations in Europe — i.e. for the rotted kings in Germany and/or Poland (before Poland got wiped out in circa 1795).

    Gee – the monarchy EVIL infected the U.S.A. LONG AGO — starting with the 1796 Prez Adams gerrymander election.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  23. Jim Riley

    #15 This presumes that Obama and Romney would have campaigned in the same way.

  24. :-)

    @18 thanks for those numbers. That proves that the election would have been much closer and that the American system would be more open to third parties if proportional representation was in place.

  25. @18 – my run of the numbers shows Obama 270, Romney 260, Johnson 1*
    7 electoral votes short due to not knowing how States would award electors when no candidates percentage of the vote is large enough to round up. In either case, neither candidate has enough EV’s to win should he receive all un-awarded EV’s.

    Additionally, if the unallocated EV’s go to the winner of the State, the results would be
    Obama 274, Romney 263, Johnson 1*

    *Johnson possibly gets 1 more EV from Texas. His vote percentage was enough for .54 EV’s which would round UP to 1
    However, both Obama & Romney had a remainder of over .7; which is also rounded UP. Depending on how Texas would allocate the EV’s with rounding, Johnson could pull an EV from either Romney or Obama.

  26. Demo Rep

    The Method of Equal Proportions is used to apportion fraction math for the U.S.A. House of Reps.

    MEP is based on the square root of N x (N+1)

    SQRT 1×2=2, 2×3=6, 3×4=12, 4×5=20, etc.

  27. Be Rational

    From @25 “Darryl W. Perry Says:
    December 5th, 2012 at 9:51 am
    @18 – my run of the numbers shows Obama 270, Romney 260, Johnson 1*
    7 electoral votes short due to not knowing how States would award electors when no candidates percentage of the vote is large enough to round up. In either case, neither candidate has enough EV’s to win should he receive all un-awarded EV’s”

    Why do you say neither would have enough Electoral votes to win?

    270 is enough to win.

    You have Obama at 270. He wins.

    @18 has Obama at 271. He still wins.

    Of course such pro forma computations are irrelevant since in the real world, if the system were different the voters voting would be different, how they vote would be different, the campaigns would be different and the candidates chosen would be different.

    It’s interesting to look at how alternative voting systems work, but you cannot plug in historical votes to determine alternate outcomes … rather you have to account for all changes in human behavior that result from alterations in the system.

  28. Slam In A Y-Trap

    @11 & 12 demonstrate why @10 is wrong.

    Actually they demonstrate why @10 is right.

    Even a candidate getting as few votes as Nader in 2008 would get one electoral vote, which could make the difference in a close election – even hypothetically send the election to the House if it’s close enough.

    And in 2000 Nader WOULD have sent it to the House.

    This would make alternative parties and independents more competitive and influential. It would increase their media coverage, and thus donations, numbers of members, candidates, and so on.

    That’s a good thing BTW.

  29. Slam In A Y-Trap

    National Popular Vote would turn the entire country into one swing nation where every vote counts equally and every vote matters.

    So it would be possible to win based on campaigning in just the biggest metro media markets only, ignoring rural areas and small towns not in the vicinity of the largest media markets completely.

    Also, no one except Democrats or Republicans would ever have any chance of getting any electoral votes at all unless they came in ahead of both the Democrats and Republicans.

    No thank you.

    You are however correct that

    “You seem to underestimate the power of partisanship in predicting outcomes. Instead of safe and swing states, under congressional allocation we would have safe and swing districts. Given what can be accomplished with gerrymandering and the incredible incentives for gerrymandering that district allocation would foster, I suspect we’d see more safe than swing districts over time. Anyway, there tends to be a Republican bias in single-seat districting even without gerrymandering because of how Democrats and Republicans tend to naturally group themselves (Democratic voters clump together much more than Republican voters).

    Your optimism about how differently voters would behave after candidates started campaigning in districts strikes me as unfounded. Increased turnout does not turn every district into a swing district; most districts just have heavily partisan voting populations.”

    So, proportional allocation of electors by state is still far and away the best plan.

    The fairvote paper makes it sound like sending the election to the House more often and giving third candidates the power to strike deals and influence the outcome would be a bad thing. I view it as a good thing.

  30. Slam In A Y-Trap

    7 electoral votes short due to not knowing how States would award electors when no candidates percentage of the vote is large enough to round up.

    See the fairvote paper @18 for the formula.

  31. @27 – I copied & pasted the wrong text

  32. Clifford F. Thies

    Considering the possibility of a C.A. regarding the Electoral College: It is time to reform the method by which the President and Vice President are selected in the even there isn’t a majority in the Electoral College. The method in the Constitution is very quirky and, unfortunately, not addressed when the 12th Amendment was adopted. In accordance with the 12th Amendment, the two should be elected as a slate by the Congress in a joint meeting.

    Furthermore, when you think about this, the small concession the Electoral College makes to the integrity of the states in a federal system, of awarding smaller states a bit more EVs than population alone would dictate, differs enormously from the unit rule governing the vote of the House in the event the selection of a President is thrown into that body. This difference can and should be eliminated by having the President and Vice President be selected as a slate in a joint meeting of the Congress in which each member casts one vote.

    Finally, I also think that the people of D.C. should be treated as part of Maryland (from which the current district was formed) for the purpose of voting for President and Vice President, for U.S. Senator, and for the apportionment and election of U.S. Congressmen.

  33. Be Rational

    @32 Re: DC.

    Yes, the VA half of DC was already retroceded. It’s time to return the other side of DC, minus a small Federal enclave of the White House, Capitol and monument district back to MD.

  34. icr

    @1 Welcome to reality. With few exceptions, politicians are nothing but power-seeking wh*res. Plurality voting obviously exacerbates this problem.

    http://www.capitalismwithoutfailure.com/2011/12/bill-black-on-incidence-of-fraud.html
    “On the prosecution of fraud following the Savings and Loan Crisis: Our agency filed over 10,000 criminal referrals that resulted in over 1,000 felony convictions. We worked closely with the FBI and the Justice Department, to prioritize cases—creating the top 100 list of the 100 worst institutions which translated into about 600 or 700 executives. We went after the absolute worst frauds.
    On the prosecution of fraud following the current crisis: We now have appointed anti-regulators. The FBI warned in open testimony in the House of Representatives, in September 2004, that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud, and they predicted that it would cause a financial crisis if it were not contained. It was not contained. Since then we have had zero criminal referrals. They completely shut down making criminal referrals. Both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration have not made it a priority to prosecute these elite criminals who caused this devastating injury.”
    (…)

    See also failure to prosecute Jon Corzine, NDAA, undeclared drone wars in about half a dozen counties, etc.

  35. icr

    @8 “If Pennsylvania wants its voters’ votes to matter, it should should join the national popular vote plan and adopt PR for its own legislature.”

    Political reform ideas never get anywhere without money and/or manpower.Why isn’t there any Soros money (or money from any *other* source) available to promote PR for state legislatures? PR for state legislatures is a good idea but(unlike IRV) no one is promoting it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>