Commit to democracy for new year
In a democracy, electoral math should be fairly simple - count the votes and swear in the winners. But the formula in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of American democracy, gets more complicated all the time because some people in power don't like the straightforward math.
The formula already is a perversion of democracy because it is based on gerrymandering - allowing politicians to draw electoral districts to select their voters, rather than allowing voters from fairly drawn districts to select their officeholders.
Republican lawmakers who don't like the fact that Pennsylvania voters have chosen Democratic presidential candidates in each of the last five elections want to slice and dice that vote through different formulas rather than a straightforward statewide election.
The first part of the formula is in place. Gerrymandering is complete, for congressional seats, until after the 2020 Census.
It already has paid dividends for legislative Republicans that majorities of that party in both houses of the state Legislature want to exploit further.
Due largely to gerrymandering, Republicans in November won 13 of 18 U.S. House seats, even though Democratic candidates won a total of 83,000 more votes. With fairly drawn elections, there would have been several competitive races.
State House Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, a Delaware County Republican, wants to change the distribution of electoral votes to make it proportional to the statewide vote. Under his plan, President Obama would have received 12 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's eight, instead of all of the state's 20 electoral votes. Why? It's a statewide election; somebody wins and somebody loses. There is no consolation prize.
Even worse is a plan formerly endorsed by Pileggi that has been resurrected by two House Republicans, Robert Godshall of Montgomery County and Seth Grove of York County. Under that plan, electoral votes would be distributed according to the vote in each gerrymandered congressional district. Under that scenario, Romney would have received 13 electoral votes to Obama's seven, even though Obama won the popular vote by 5 percent.
If there is a national agreement to elect the president by the popular vote, eliminating the Electoral College, that would be one thing. But having failed to convince statewide majorities to vote for their candidates, legislative Republicans are embarrassing themselves and mocking democracy by trying to establish formulas to make the vote say other than what voters say. They should desist.