Republican attempts in Pennsylvania to tamper with the Electoral College to give their party a boost in presidential elections, part of a national trend, has raised plenty of opposition from Democrats across the state. They happen to be right, but one doesn't have to be a partisan to see the danger.
The main vehicle for this mischief is Senate Bill 538, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi. Instead of the winner-take-all system that awards all 20 of the state's electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes statewide, his bill would allot two electors to the popular vote winner and distribute the rest according to the portion of popular votes taken by each nominee.
This is better than his old idea, still pushed by House Republicans in House Bill 94, which would distribute 18 of the electoral votes according to the number of congressional districts won by the candidates, thus crowning the gerrymander that let Republican congressmen save their seats against the tide of voting in November.
Republicans took 13 of 18 of the state's congressional seats. President Barack Obama won 53 percent of the state's vote, but Democratic candidates won only 28 percent of the seats. Under the House bill, Mitt Romney would have taken the lion's share of electors.
The Senate plan aims at a similar result, rigging the system so that Republicans can take the presidency. By diluting the power of its Electoral College votes, Pennsylvania would find itself less attractive to presidential candidates. It's not a constitutional matter -- the states get to decide how their Electoral College votes are awarded -- but it is sinister.
These moves to drive more electoral votes to future Republican nominees are afoot only in states, such as Pennsylvania, that the party has difficulty winning. The GOP is not pushing similar measures in states that it typically wins. Wonder why?
Americans hate it when any party tries to fix the rules to its own advantage, and this fix is part of the Republican attempt to discourage certain classes of voters. Another example is the voter ID law. No more shattering way can break the people's faith in fair-fought elections.
SB 538 is now in the State Government Committee, where it should stay and die a lonely death.