Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Case Against a District System

An earlier post looked at a Pennsylvania proposal to adopt the district system for allocating electoral votes. At the Morning Call, Professor Christopher Borick of Muhlenberg College argues against the idea:

Herein lies the problem: The congressional district system that serves as the heart of the proposed election system is about as rotten of a core as you will ever find. Congressional districts are generally designed with a single purpose — preservation of party dominance in that district. The gerrymandering of congressional districts has successfully killed off real competition in a vast majority of districts throughout the state and nation. In only a handful of districts do you see real and regular competition between Democrats and Republicans.

Yet even with the failings of congressional districts glaringly apparent to even the most casual observer, the proposal floated by Republican leaders in Harrisburg, such as Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, seeks to make such districts the foundation upon which presidential elections in Pennsylvania will be built. In the parlance of card players, Harrisburg is considering doubling-down on a very bad hand, and the ability of Pennsylvania's voters to cast meaningful votes for president is at stake.

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If Pennsylvania turns to a system where Electoral College votes are chosen district by district, you will ensure that most of the state's electoral votes will be determined before the race even begins, much in the way that a majority of Pennsylvania's members of Congress are currently selected. Of course, presidential candidates will spend neither time nor money campaigning where the outcome is pre-ordained; it makes no sense to use precious resources on done deals.