IOM editorial: Electoral College proposal would be bad for Philly

Under a new plan from state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, Harrisburg Republicans will finally have their chance to make Philly go away - at least in an electoral sense. 

Pileggi's plan, which Gov. Corbett supports, would change the way Pennsylvania assigns its electoral votes in presidential elections. Right now, all 21 votes go to the candidate who gets the most votes statewide. Pileggi wants to give one vote to the winner of each congressional district, and two to the statewide winner.

Dominic Pileggi

Pileggi says he wants to build a system that better reflects the state's preferences. But Pileggi's system is not a purer form of democracy. The plan makes it possible that a candidate could win the state popular vote but lose the electoral vote. That's because Republican-controlled redistricting has concentrated many Democratic votes in a limited number of districts.

It gets worse. If Pennsylvania joined Maine and Nebraska, the only two states that apportion votes by district, other states that offer big electoral prizes would leapfrog us in importance. Candidates would have little reason to campaign here, because although Pennsylvania is now a swing state, most districts are either solidly blue or red - and candidates would ignore voters whose electoral votes are a foregone conclusion.

Chief among those newly ignored voters would be Philadelphians. The Electoral College system has problems, and the country should consider switching to a winner-take-all national popular vote. But it makes no sense for Pennsylvania to forfeit its influence just so a Republican candidate can pick up 10 more votes (which is rarely enough to swing a presidential election). Rather than making some Pennsylvania votes matter more, it would make all Pennsylvania votes - and Philadelphia votes - matter less.

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