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National Popular Vote Proponents Seize on PA Debate

Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral College votes based on a winner-take-all model.  Critics say it disenfranchises the millions of Pennsylvanians who vote for the losing candidate, every four years.  “The integrity and weight of an individual’s vote is something that must be preserved and protected,” says Luke Bernstein, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Corbett. 

Bernstein appeared before the Senate State Government Committee to discuss the Corbett administration’s support of the “Congressional District Method” of allocating electoral votes.  Under this system, a presidential candidate would get one vote for winning each of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts in 2012.  The two remaining electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote. 

State Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) told Bernstein his arguments illustrated the imperfections of the Electoral College, but would not correct the problem.  “Frankly if [Governor Corbett] wants to be a part of fixing it, then he probably should join Fred Thompson and others who are here today to talk about a national mass voter participation process,” said Williams, the minority chair of the State Government Committee. 

Williams was alluding to a separate event promoting the National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative.  NPV seeks to ensure that every vote, in every state, is counted equally by awarding electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide.  “They would just be ratifying what the majority of the people in the rest of the nation have done,” says Jim Edgar, the former Governor of Illinois and co-champion of the National Popular Vote initiative. 

“I don’t think America can afford anymore to have the potential divisiveness of a President who’s not elected by the majority of the people,” says the other NPV co-champion, Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee Senator, actor and one-time marginal presidential candidate himself. 

Eight states and the District of Columbia have already passed NPV legislation, which would only take effect if it’s enacted by states representing a majority of the nation’s 538 electoral votes.  With states representing 132 electoral votes on-board, NPV supporters are nearly half-way toward their goal.  In Pennsylvania, NPV legislation has been introduced in both the House (HB 1270) and Senate (SB 1116), but the bills have not seen any action.