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Nebraska electoral-vote rule unique

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

For states considering divvying up their electoral votes in presidential elections for partisan advantage, Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska Republican, has a little advice: Be careful what you wish for.

Nebraska and Maine are the only two states in the country that do not use the winner-take-all method for doling out electoral votes, instead awarding one precious electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district and two votes to the overall popular-vote winner of the state.

The Cornhusker State is firmly in the GOP column, but Mr. Terry's Omaha district is far more balanced politically. The result in 2008 was that throngs of Obama campaign operatives and activists descended on the city in a successful bid to poach an electoral vote from Republican candidate Sen. John McCain.

Mr. Terry, now in his seventh term, won comfortably, but still recalls with a touch of awe the sight of "busloads and busloads" of Obama volunteers showing up in his district to campaign and boost Democratic turnout. The Obama campaign began running local ads in February 2008, while Mr. McCain didn't air his first spot until the very last days of the race.

"My district had never seen anything like it. They were masters at the ground game," Mr. Terry said in an interview Tuesday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "It was phenomenal."

Republicans in Pennsylvania - a state won by the Democratic nominee in the last five presidential votes - earlier this fall floated a plan to go to the Nebraska-style system, in hopes that at least a few of Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes would go to the GOP.

As the plan was being discussed in Harrisburg, "I was the invited guest to the Pennsylvania Republican caucus to talk about my experiences," Mr. Terry recalled.

"I just showed them a picture of the lines of people going out the door of the Election Commissioner's office, out on to the park walk and down the street. We had never had lines like that at the election office, never. I said to them, 'This is what you get.' "

Pennsylvania Republicans last month quietly shelved plans to push for the electoral-vote change.

"I see no movement on it. I'm not going to push for movement, but I still support it," Republican Gov. Tom Corbett told reporters.

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