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Obama wins Electoral College vote

Wire • Dec 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Ohio’s 53rd Electoral College met Monday in the Senate Chamber of the Ohio Statehouse. Ohio’s 18 members of the Electoral College cast their ballots for president and vice president.

According to the U.S. Constitution, each state is allotted a number of presidential electors equal to the number of U.S. senators plus the number of U.S. House representatives, so Ohio has 18 electors. In most states, including Ohio, the presidential ticket that receives the popular vote in that state garners all of the electors. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, have a proportional system for choosing electors based on the percentage of votes received by the presidential candidate.

Ohio electors casting votes Monday were:

District 1         Daniel Traicoff, Cincinnati

District 2         Constance Lighthall, New Richmond

District 3         Tracy Heard, Columbus

District 4         William Young, Green Springs

District 5         Michael Friedman, Toledo

District 6         Ann Block, Woodsfield

District 7         William J. Healy, II, Canton

District 8         Cathina Hourani, Liberty Township

District 9         Wade Kapszukiewicz, Toledo

District 10       Mark Owens, Dayton

District 11        Pernel Jones, Jr., Cleveland

District 12       Grace Anne Cherrington, Pataskala

District 13       Sarah Brown-Clark, Youngstown

District 14       Kevin Malecek, Willoughby Hills

District 15       Jeremy Van Meter, Sugar Grove

District 16       Ryan Kolegar, Brunswick

District 17       Ted Strickland, Columbus

District 18       Chris Redfern, Catawba Island

Electoral votes from each state are sent to the President of the Senate, who on Jan. 6 unseals and reads them before both houses of Congress. The candidates with the most electoral votes are declared president and vice president. At noon on Jan. 20, following the Electoral College, the duly-elected president and vice president are sworn into office.

Changes in system sought

In the end, it wasn’t close Monday.

Despite predictions that the presidential election could end in an electoral vote tie, or that the winner of the popular vote could again be denied the White House by the Electoral College, President Barack Obama won his anticipated 126-vote landslide Monday as the 538 electors officially voted in statehouses.

But 12 years after Al Gore’s defeat prompted some Democrats to call for changing to the constitutionally prescribed method of choosing the president, Republicans are now mounting efforts in key states to end the winner-take-all method that most states employ. Some Republican strategists believe that could counter the advantage Democrats have gained on the path to the needed 270 electoral votes.

Only two states, Nebraska and Maine, do not award the full slate of electors to one candidate based on the statewide result. In those states, a statewide victory gets two votes and the remaining electors are awarded by congressional district.

Some Republicans are pressing for vote-rich battlegrounds — such as Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania — with Republican-led state legislatures to adopt similar systems. If, for example, Florida had used congressional district allocation, Mitt Romney could have won 16 of 29 electoral votes.

Dominic Pileggi, the Republican leader in the Pennsylvania state Senate, introduced such a proposal this year, but faced resistance from Democrats and some in his party who were worried that it could hurt them.

Pileggi introduced a revised version that would award 18 of the state’s 20 electoral votes proportionally based on the statewide vote. Under that approach, Obama would have won 12 votes and Romney eight. Were such a proposal in place nationwide, Obama would still have won a second term, according to a third-party analysis cited by Pileggi’s office, but the Electoral College results would have more closely mirrored the national vote.

“This is a debate that goes beyond Pennsylvania,” Pileggi said. “It’s hard to understand opposition to a more fair allocation of Electoral College votes.”

In the past 200 years, 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College, according to the National Archives.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., introduced a constitutional amendment in October modeled on a proposal from a 1978 task force to expand the Electoral College and award the 29 additional votes to the national winner of the popular vote. Israel said that would encourage candidates to campaign in populous states that are not swing states, but protect the influence of smaller states.

An ongoing campaign called National Popular Vote aims to create a compact among the states to award electors to the winner of the national vote regardless of the state results. So far, eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted such legislation. Those states, which include California, are Democratic states, a result that John Koza, a former Stanford University professor who is chairman of National Popular Vote, attributes to Democrats’ displeasure with Gore’s 2000 loss.

“There’s no question that any election bill is scrutinized on the basis of partisan politics. But I have never heard a convincing case as to why a national popular vote helps or hurts either party,” he said. “The real problem is this distortion that the campaign is limited to nine states, which means the issues important to the other 41 states are not on the radar of the White House.”

Although the National Popular Vote has not yet drawn support from Republican states, Republicans are increasingly supporting Electoral College reform. Since 1992, Democratic candidates have consistently carried states that account for 242 electoral votes, just 28 shy of the winning threshold.

“I think the push for a national popular vote has caused a lot of people to step back and say, if that’s a viable option, are there others?” said Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican chairman and Republican National Committee member. “A congressional district plan or a proportional plan or a national popular vote, I think, are better for Republicans across the country.”

After Monday’s meetings of electors, states will send certified tallies to the Capitol Hill office of Vice President Joe Biden in his capacity as president of the Senate. A joint session of Congress will count the votes in January, at which point Obama will officially be announced as the winner.


By Michael A. Memoli - Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)

©2012 Tribune Co.

Visit Tribune Co. at www.latimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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