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Sprucing Up Suppression: Pennsylvania GOP Proposes New Election-Rigging Scheme
Some GOP leaders have backed-off plans to allocate electoral votes according to gerrymandered Congressional districts, but Pennsylvania Republicans have hatched a new scheme to give a boost to the GOP's presidential chances.
Pennsylvania's Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi intends to introduce legislation that would award that state's electoral votes proportionally according to the popular vote, rather than according to the winner in each Congressional district. If the plan had been in place for last November's election Romney would have received 8 of Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes.
"After hearing from numerous people with concerns about tying the distribution of electors to congressional districts, he decided that it makes sense to completely separate the issue of electoral distribution from the issue of how congressional districts are drawn," said Erik Arneson, a Pileggi spokesman.
But Pennsylvania has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since 1988. This revamped plan would get at the same goal as allocating electors by Congressional district: it would ensure that Republicans get a slice of Pennsylvania's electoral votes.
Awarding electoral votes in this way is only being proposed in blue states like Pennsylvania that are controlled by "red" Republicans at the state level. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has said explicitly that changing the allocation of electoral votes is only intended for "states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red."
Solidly red states would continue awarding 100% of their electoral votes to the Republican winner of the statewide vote, but blue states would divide their votes proportionally.
If Texas were to implement this plan, it would have awarded 15 of its 38 electoral votes to President Obama in 2012. But the Republican-led Texas legislature does not appear particularly concerned with aligning the state's electoral vote with its popular vote (as Pileggi claims to be doing in Pennsylvania). Making these selective changes to electoral vote allocations only in blue states would effectively lock-in an advantage for Republican presidential candidates.
This latest scheme to rig presidential elections again highlights the problems with the electoral college, which groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have lobbied to preserve in the face of momentum for a national popular vote.
But it also highlights how Republican leaders have apparently given up hope of winning a majority of voters in states like Pennsylvania by fair and legitimate means.