Election Reform

National Popular Vote

 

Today’s Electoral College is the product of a political compromise, a deal struck among our founders more than 200 years ago. You’ll recall that some of them wanted the President chosen by a vote of the people; others thought the selection should be left to members of Congress. In the end, they found a third way.

Common Cause Pennsylvania believes it's time to embrace another compromise, one that guarantees that the candidate supported by a majority of the people – not just in Pennsylvania but across our country -- is the candidate who ultimately occupies the White House.

The vote of every Pennsylvanian, wherever cast, should have equal weight. A far superior alternative is gaining momentum around the country – the National Popular Vote Compact – in which all states would, by legal contract, agree to cast all of their electoral votes for the candidate that wins the popular vote nationwide.

The President is the one and only public official who runs for office nationwide. Therefore, two principals should be at the forefront of legislators’ thinking -- first that every voters’ vote should count the same no matter where he or she lives in the country; and second, the candidate who gets the most votes should win the election.The proposal to award electoral votes by congressional district takes the worst attributes of the electoral college and multiplies them by 18 (the number of PA congressional districts) by awarding electoral votes to the presidential candidate that wins in each Congressional district. National Popular Vote significantly elevates the probability that in Pennsylvania the candidate who won the most popular votes could get a minority of the electoral votes, due in part to congressional districts that could be gerrymandered to favor specific political parties. Gerrymandering could also make the electoral vote outcome in each congressional district a foregone conclusion, which would lead presidential candidates to ignore most of the state and leave Pennsylvania voters as mere bystanders.


Two thumbs down to effoft to rig Pennsylvania's Electoral Vote System

Common Cause President Bob Edgar, told the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee in written testimony that changing from a winner-take-all system for allocating Pennsylvania’s electoral votes (the system used in 48 states) to a system that would allocate electoral votes based on which candidate wins in each of the state’s congressional districts is a bad idea for the state, its voters and the nation. “The unfairness of this (new proposal) is clear. The vote of every Pennsylvanian, wherever cast, should have equal weight” he said. Edgar then urged the Committee to get behind a far superior alternative that is gaining momentum around the country – the National Popular Vote Compact – in which all states would, by legal contract, agree to cast all of their electoral votes for the candidate that wins the popular vote nationwide. See Bob Edgar's testimony here.

In follow-up comments before the Committee, CC/PA Executive Director, Barry Kauffman, reminded that the President is the one and only public official who runs for office nationwide. Therefore, two principals should be at the forefront of legislators’ thinking -- first that every voters’ vote should count the same no matter where he or she lives in the country; and second, the candidate who gets the most votes should win the election. He pointed out that the proposal to award electoral votes by congressional district only took the worst attributes of the electoral college and multiplied them by 18 (the number of PA congressional districts) by awarding electoral votes to the presidential candidate that wins in each CD. Kauffman noted that the new proposal significantly elevated the probability that in Pennsylvania the candidate who won the most popular votes could get a minority of the electoral votes, due in part to congressional districts that could be gerrymandered to favor specific political parities He also pointed out that gerrymandering could make the electoral vote outcome in each congressional district a foregone conclusion, which would lead presidential candidates to ignore most of the state and leave Pennsylvania voters as mere by-standers.

Ironically, as Committee Chairman, Chuck McIlhiiney, refused to allow Kauffman to present the far better reform offered by the National Popular Vote Compact, the leaders of the Compact movement were conducting an hour-long press conference in another part of the capitol. Former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R) Tennessee, Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar (D) and national compact leader Tom Golisano spoke before a packed room of reporters and made an extremely compelling case as to why Pennsylvania should join the other states that have enacted the Compact, and taken it halfway to the 270 electoral votes needed to trigger its implementation.


Common Cause President Bob Edgar and Common Cause Pennsylvania's executive director Barry Kauffman both testified in support of National Popular Vote. Click here to read their testimony.