Earlier this week, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus endorsed a Republican plan to rig the next presidential election to make it nearly impossible for the Democratic candidate to win the White House, no matter who the American people vote for. The election-rigging plan, which would allocate electoral votes by congressional district rather than by states as a whole in a handful of states that consistently vote for Democratic presidential candidates, would have allowed Mitt Romney to narrowly win the Electoral College last November despite losing the popular vote by nearly four points.
On Monday, seven Pennsylvania Republican state representatives introduced a bill to make this vote-rigging scheme a reality in their state. Under their bill, the winner of Pennsylvania as a whole will receive only 2 of the state’s 20 electoral votes, while “[e]ach of the remaining presidential electors shall be elected in the presidential elector’s congressional district.”
Pennsylvania is a blue state that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every single presidential race for the last two decades, so implementing the GOP election-rigging plan in Pennsylvania would make it much harder for a Democrat to be elected to the White House. Moreover, because of gerrymandering, it is overwhelmingly likely that the Republican candidate will win a majority of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes even if the Democrat wins the state by a very comfortable margin. Despite the fact that President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points last November, Democrats carried only 5 of the state’s 18 congressional seats. Accordingly, Obama would have likely won only 7 of the state’s 20 electoral votes if the GOP vote rigging plan had been in effect last year.
One mitigating factor is that only 7 of the Pennsylvania House’s 109 Republicans are original sponsors of the election-rigging bill, so it is unclear that this is a major priority for the GOP state house caucus. Nevertheless, both Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-PA) support the plan, so there is a real risk that Pennsylvania Republicans will try to write the voters out of the next presidential election.