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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2016 01:21 PM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: National Popular Vote Legislation
In the near future I will introduce legislation that will result in the Commonwealth joining the National Popular Vote Compact. The compact is an agreement between states pledging to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in presidential elections. The agreement takes effect once states representing a total of 270 electoral votes join the compact. After that point, future presidential elections would be awarded to the person who receives the most votes from the American people.

The founders created the Electoral College because they did not trust the people to make a wise selection. They wanted to create a layer between the people and the most important job in the country. Their theory was that the will of the people would be expressed by their chosen electors--wise men (and it was all men at the time) who would gather, deliberate, and make the best choice.

However, once political parties came into existence, and each party had a slate of electors committed to voting for their specific nominee no matter what, the whole idea of “deliberation” became inoperative. The founder’s purpose for the Electoral College disappeared. It is now just a numbers game that greatly distorts the process of choosing a president. Further, it renders the votes of people living in more populous states less valuable than those of people living in less populous states. This is due to the fact that every state casts at least three electoral votes regardless of its population size. For example, each Wyoming voter has almost three times as much influence as each California voter and almost two times as much influence as each Pennsylvania voter.

It is important to remember that this proposed reform, like all good political reform, does not predictably help or hurt either major political party. Yes, if this compact were in effect in 2016, it would have benefitted Hillary Clinton. But just four years ago, there was a lot of speculation that Mitt Romney might win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College. We have no way of knowing who this compact would help in 2020, or 2044, or 2184.

In addition to simplifying the election of presidents and making the process fairer, this reform would make every vote count. Currently, neither major party nominee has any incentive to campaign or spend money in about 40 states. But if every vote counted, it would make sense, for example, for a Republican to campaign in Boston and a Democrat to campaign in New Orleans. They may not carry the state, but they would certainly earn more votes, and since every vote would be counted equally, it would be a worthwhile use of time and resources.

Currently, 11 states representing a total of 165 electoral votes have passed this legislation. Twelve states, representing 96 more electoral votes, have passed it in at least one legislative chamber.
This is an issue of fundamental fairness. The winner of our highest office should be the person who receives the most votes, not the person who most successfully campaigns in the 12 states that currently matter.

If you have questions about this legislation, please contact my Legislative Director, Jon Tew, at jtew@pasenate.com or 610-768-4200.

Introduced as SB270