Virginia Electoral Vote-Rigging Bill Euthanized by Skeptical Republican Senators

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 25 2013 3:50 PM

Virginia Electoral Vote-Rigging Bill Euthanized by Skeptical Republican Senators

The problem facing Sen. Charles Carrico, the sponsor of Virginia's electoral college-vote-by-district bill, was all around him. The Virginia State Senate is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, 20-20. If one Republican went against the bill, it was dead.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

And so:

Sen. Ralph Smith, R-Bedford County... said this morning that he opposes the legislation, calling it “a bad idea.” Smith sits on the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, which will hear the bill next week. Without Smith’s support, it’s unlikely the bill could get to the Senate floor. The Privileges and Elections Committee has eight Republicans and seven Democrats.
“What if all states got to skewering it to their advantage?” Smith said in an interview this morning.
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That makes it unlikely Florida and Virginia, two of the GOP-run mega-states where Republicans had discussed the rigging plan, will move a bill. How many Republicans are needed to kill the plans in other states?

In Ohio, Republicans run the state Senate with a 13-vote supermajority and the state House by 21 votes. If this plan gets traction -- and it's been slow there -- Democrats need to flip seven votes in the Senate.

In Michigan, a new state Senate map has given the GOP caucus a 26-12 supermajority. But the party only controls the House by eight votes. If five Republicans flip, the plan dies.

In Pennsylvania, where Democrats had a surprisingly good 2012, the GOP's 10-vote State Senate majority shrunk to a 4-vote majority. If three Republicans bail, the plan dies.

It's in Wisconsin, ironically enough, where Democrats need the smallest number of defectors. An aggressive 2011 gerrymander allowed Republicans to take the State Senate back after losing it in recall elections. They now have a three-seat majority. Two Republicans balk, and the plan dies.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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