Another Electoral Vote-Rigging Scheme Emerges in Pennsylvania

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 20 2012 2:47 PM

Another Electoral Vote-Rigging Scheme Emerges in Pennsylvania

Like the little kid said in Poltergeist, they're back:

State Reps. Robert Godshall (R-Montco) and Seth Grove (R-York) want Pennsylvania to divvy ups its electoral college votes by congressional district... in their co-sponsorship memo, they essentially concede that Pa. is no longer a competitive presidential state.
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“I believe that the Congressional District Method will increase voter turnout and encourage candidates to campaign in all states rather than just those that are competitive,” the two wrote. “Most importantly, this method of selecting presidential electors will give a stronger voice to voters in all regions of our great Commonwealth.”

Here's the problem: The line about giving a "stronger voice to voters in all regions" is simply untrue. Under the current system, a voter in Rep. Chakka Fattah's Philadelphia district counts as much as a voter in Rep. Mike Kelly's western PA district. In 2012, there happened to be more voters who agreed with that Fattah-district voter, and thought Barack Obama, not Mitt Romney, should be president.

Under a congressional district system, under Pennsylvania's current district map, the voter in the Kelly district counts more than the voter in the Fattah district. Urban voters and voters in the Lehigh valley were packed tight into five districts. Mitt Romney easily carried 12 districts; the last was a close win for Obama. So, had this system been in place, more Pennsylvanians would have voted to make Obama president, and given him only eight of the state's 18 electors. The rural voters who chose Romney would have secured him 10 electors.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.