On Monday, electors will formalize presidential vote
HARRISBURG - A constitutional ritual that includes a nice lunch will take place at noon Monday in the House of Representatives chamber.
The 57th Electoral College convenes in the 50 states to formally elect Democrats Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to serve second terms.
Pennsylvania voters in the Nov. 6 election actually chose a slate of 20 electors to cast ballots for president.
The 20 electors who meet Monday are pledged to Obama, who won the popular vote in Pennsylvania, but they aren't legally bound to vote that way. The specter of "faithless electors" who break their pledge and vote for someone else has occurred from time to time in other states.
The previous electoral college in 2008 was cast as a historic event being the first time an African-American was elected president.
There is one fewer Pennsylvania elector than in 2008 because the state lost a congressional seat in the 2010 census. But few expect this college to break new ground, as happened 100 years ago when Pennsylvania's 38 electors voted in 1912 for third-party Progressive candidate Teddy Roosevelt, who carried the state.
And no one anticipates the kind of fireworks that happened in 1844, when electors convened to elect Democrat James Polk. After dutifully casting their votes, the electors went to an outdoor ox roast. While feasting they heard fire bells and ran to the bank of the Susquehanna River to watch the nation's second longest railroad bridge burn.
This is the sixth time in a row since 1992 that Pennsylvania Democrats have answered the electoral casting call.
If Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, Chester, has his way, this will be the last time where winner-take-all rules prevail in Pennsylvania.
Pileggi plans to introduce a bill next session to choose 18 of the 20 electors proportionately based on the percentage of statewide vote by each candidate. If his bill had been law, Obama would have 12 electoral votes and Republican Mitt Romney eight electoral votes.
"It (proposal) much more accurately reflects the will of the voters in our state," said Pileggi.
Lawmakers have more important issues relating to job creation to focus on, said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-43, Pittsburgh, who is an Obama elector.
(Robert Swift is Harrisburg bureau chief for Times-Shamrock Communications newspapers. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)