BY JOE SHAHEELI/ The last couple weeks have seen weekly and daily newspapers using precious editorial space to comment pro or con against an effort by Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) to legislate a change in how the Pennsylvania vote is counted in the Electoral College. It is that majority vote, and not the majority popular vote, which elects the President of the United States.
Pileggi would not like to see a repeat of what occurred when the 57th Pennsylvania Electoral College gathered in the State House in Harrisburg and cast all 20 votes for the Democratic candidates. This continued a 223-year-old tradition of winner-take-all which is not specified in the US Constitution, however. So it can change at any time.
Pileggi’s bill would change this format to one based on proportion of the vote total. If his plan had been law, Obama would have won 12 of the Commonwealth’s 20 electoral votes, while Mitt Romney would have won eight, based on the statewide vote percentage. Obama won 52%, netting him 10 electoral votes, plus two for winning statewide.
Republicans are trying to do the same in other states where they control the governorship and the legislature – but which tend to vote Democratic for the presidency
Maine and Nebraska are the only two states where the Electoral College vote is not winner-take-all. In those states, one electoral vote is given to the winner of the vote in each congressional district; two votes are given to the winner of the overall statewide vote.
Not all states need to accept the Pileggi principle. Had only a handful – like Michigan, Ohio, this state, and a couple others – been guided by proportional voting, Mitt Romney would be swearing in next week.
Other efforts have been made to eliminate the Electoral College entirely, using the popular vote to decide who guides the country. Had that been the case, Obama would still be the victor. Eight states – California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington, plus the District of Columbia – have adopted the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, but that won’t go into effect until enough states join so that the total reaches 270 electoral votes.
Goading Republicans nationally to go with proportional voting for their states is the realization they have lost to Democrats, for at least a generation to come, the outcome of big-city votes. This is especially so when a Black candidate will again seek the national office, or more frequently the statewide offices of US Senator or Governor. The Pileggis of this world understand what is now a political axiom: Over 95% of Black voters will support a Democrat for those posts.