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GOP's election-rigging scheme not yet dead

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R)
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R)Associated Press

As of a few weeks ago, the Republican scheme to rig the presidential election by allocating electoral votes along gerrymandered district lines looked to be in very big trouble. GOP leaders in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin all denounced the plan, and in Virginia, state Republican lawmakers killed it.

But some lingering question marks remain. As my colleague Laura Conaway explained yesterday, for example, Michigan Republicans are still extremely enthusiastic about the scheme. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has criticized the idea, but the governor has a bad habit of doing what he's said he won't do.

Meanwhile, as Benjy Sarlin reported late yesterday, Pennsylvania remains the state where the election-rigging proposal arguably has the best chance of actually passing.

Pennsylvania Senate president Dominic Pileggi (R) has formally introduced a bill to award the state's electoral votes proportionally, a move that would effectively end its position as a swing state while likely aiding the next Republican presidential candidate. [...]

Pileggi's bill, introduced Thursday, has 13 co-sponsors, half of the 26 votes required to pass a bill through the state senate.

If Turzai's name sounds familiar, it's because he's the guy who made quite a name for himself last summer when he boasted that the state's voter-ID law, ostensibly about the integrity of the electoral process, "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."

Gov. Tom Corbett (R), meanwhile, hasn't said whether he supports rigging the state's system of allocating electoral votes to boost his own party, but he has to be careful -- he's considered vulnerable in 2014, and endorsing deliberate cheating would likely boost Democratic turnout against him next year.

If the GOP's election-rigging scheme is adopted in the Keystone State, the advantage for Republicans would be obvious. As Jamelle Bouie noted, if this system were in place last year, Mitt Romney would have won eight of Pennsylvania's electoral votes, instead of zero, despite losing the state by over 300,000 votes.

Sarlin added, however, that the road ahead remains unclear in Pennsylvania: "A spokesman for Pileggi, Erik Arneson, told the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this month that it's not even a "top 20" priority. Asked for an update, Arneson told TPM that the next step for a bill would be a hearing, but nothing has been scheduled and there's no timetable for its passage."

That said, the plan is clearly not dead, and remains a threat to the democratic system.