A proposal supported by Gov. Tom Corbett to change the way Pennsylvania’s electoral votes will be counted in next year’s presidential election stirred up pointed criticism at a legislative hearing Tuesday, including a complaint that it would subvert Philadelphia’s large bloc of minority voters.
Two prominent political scientists also said the proposal was sure to reduce voter turnout, destroy Pennsylvania’s status as a battleground that draws the attention of presidential candidates and weaken an already flawed electoral voting system by relying on a gerrymandered map of congressional districts.
The committee chairman, Sen. Charles McIlhinney, a Republican from Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia, said after the hearing that he himself has not made up his mind and acknowledged that some voters would benefit while others would lose.
“In my district, in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, that would have the effect of really ginning up support. … If you could count that one vote, it would really excite because it’s so close,” McIlhinney said. “But you can also see like in South Philly, you’re a Republican in South Philly, forget about it. Your vote is never going to get counted. So it would probably have the opposite effect in those different areas.”
The Republican-sponsored proposal would ditch the current system of awarding Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote in the 2012 presidential election. Rather, candidates would win an electoral delegate for each of 18 congressional districts they carry, and the winner of the statewide vote would gain two additional electoral votes.
Democrats call the proposal a partisan attempt to rig the presidential election, and it has divided Republicans.