Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Casey and Pileggi spar over Electoral College bill

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is the latest Democratic official to blast a Republican-crafted bill that would change the way the state allocates its Electoral College votes for U.S. president.

The prime sponsor of the bill is state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester. Pileggi introduced Senate Bill 538 on Feb. 21. It has been referred to the state Government Committee and has 12 Republican co-sponsors.

Casey voiced opposition to the bill in a letter, dated March 18, to Pileggi.

"I write to express my opposition to (Senate Bill 538), legislation recently introduced by you and 12 other state Senators to amend Pennsylvania’s Election Code," Casey said in the letter. "If enacted, (the bill) would drastically alter the method by which the Commonwealth allocates its 20 electoral votes and diminish the historical role Pennsylvania has played in electing our nation’s presidents. I respectfully urge you to reconsider this legislation."

Pileggi’s bill would change the state from a winner-take-all system to one that awards electoral votes proportionally. Of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, 18 would be distributed based on the percentage of the popular vote each candidate wins. The other two votes, representing the states senators, would be given to the candidate who wins the popular vote.

Having earned 52 percent of Pennsylvanians’ votes, President Barack Obama would have won 12 of the state’s 20 electoral votes.

Casey said that as Pileggi’s bill moves forward, he hopes the bill is debated with complete transparency and in public hearings.

Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Pileggi, fired back at Casey. He has consistently stated that this bill is not a top priority this legislative session.

"Sen. Casey seems to have missed this fundamental point: There are no plans to advance the legislation at this time," Arneson said in an email. "If such plans develop, there will be a public hearing as the first step. I’ve said both of those things publicly so many times now that I feel silly saying them again, but there you go. Perhaps Sen. Casey and his staff should read some Pennsylvania newspapers. If they did, he would already know this."

John Rizzo, Casey’s spokesman, responded to Arneson’s statement in an email by saying, "It is welcome news that they don’t have plans to move this legislation forward."

Asked why Casey decided to weigh in roughly a month after the bill was introduced, Rizzo said, "Sen. Casey has been following this debate since the legislation was introduced and given that this has the potential to diminish the influence of Pennsylvania voters he thought it was important to weigh in. For over 200 years Pennsylvanians have spoken with one voice on presidential elections and that should continue. As Sen. Casey has said this is the is the wrong policy at the wrong time."

3 Comments:

Blogger toto said...

Pennsylvania is no longer a battleground state.

We’ve joined the 80% of states and Americans who are merely spectators to presidential elections. We have no influence.
That’s more than 85 million voters, 200 million Americans, ignored.

When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

A survey of Pennsylvania voters showed 78% overall support for a national popular vote for President.

Support was 87% among Democrats, 68% among Republicans, and 76% among
independents.

By age, support was 77% among 18-29 year olds, 73% among 30-45 year olds, 81% among 46-65 year olds, and 78% for those older than 65.

By gender, support was 85% among women and 71% among men.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps.

When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).
Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO 68%, FL 78%, IA 75%, MI 73%, MO 70%, NH 69%, NV 72%, NM 76%, NC 74%, OH 70%, PA 78%, VA 74%, and WI 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK 70%, DC 76%, DE 75%, ID 77%, ME 77%, MT 72%, NE 74%, NH 69%, NV 72%, NM 76%, OK 81%, RI - 74%, SD 71%, UT 70%, VT 75%, WV 81%, and WY 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR - 80%, KY- 80%, MS 77%, MO 70%, NC 74%, OK 81%, SC 71%, TN 83%, VA 74%, and WV - 81%; and in other states polled: AZ 67%, CA 70%, CT 74%, MA 73%, MN 75%, NY - 79%, OR 76%, and WA 77%.
Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

NationalPopularVote
Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

March 19, 2013 at 1:09 PM 
Blogger toto said...

Republican legislators who want to split state electoral votes in states that have recently voted Democratic in presidential elections, do not want to split electoral votes in states that recently voted Republican in presidential elections.

Obvious partisan machinations like Pileggi's should add support for the National Popular Vote movement. If the party in control in each state is tempted every 2, 4, or 10 years (post-census) to consider rewriting election laws and redistrict with an eye to the likely politically beneficial effects for their party in the next presidential election, then the National Popular Vote system, in which all voters across the country are guaranteed to be politically relevant and treated equally, is needed now more than ever.

March 19, 2013 at 1:12 PM 
Blogger Danielle Lynch said...

Thanks for weighing in.

March 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM 

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