If Nevada’s Democratic governor signs a bill passed by the state senate Tuesday into law, his state will have moved the National Popular Vote movement six votes closer to effectively nullifying the Electoral College as established in the U.S. Constitution.
By a vote of 12-8, the Nevada Senate passed AB 186 on Tuesday, which if signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak, will add Nevada’s six electoral votes to the 189 votes already pledged by 14 other states in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would “guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” If triggered, the pact would override the majority decision of voters in particular states.
Thus far, 14 states and one district have officially passed the measure, their collective electoral vote total currently at 189. The compact requires a minimum of 270 total pledged electoral votes to go into effect. Should Sisolak sign the bill, the total would edge up to 195 votes.
The 15 jurisdictions, which are predominantly blue, that have signed on thus far are: California (55), Colorado (9), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), the District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Massachusetts (11), Maryland (10), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), and Washington (12).
“The bill has passed one house in 9 additional states with 82 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, OR), including a 40–16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House and a 28–18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, and been approved unanimously by committee votes in two additional Republican-controlled states with 26 electoral votes (GA, MO),” the National Popular Vote website explains.
As CNN underscores suggestively, the Electoral College “clinched President Donald Trump the 2016 presidential victory despite Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton winning a popular-vote majority by nearly 3 million votes.” Among the high-profile Democrats pushing for the elimination of the Electoral College are presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX), CNN notes.
Including Trump’s victory over Clinton, there have been a total of “five instances where a presidential candidate has been elected without winning the popular vote since the Electoral College was created in 1787,” The Hill reports.
In a video for PragerU (below), Electoral College expert Tara Ross explains the rationale behind the current U.S. presidential voting system and summarizes some of the arguments against the National Popular Vote agreement, including the impact of states’ widely varying voting policies, the exponentially increased threat of voter fraud, and the encouragement of presidential candidates neglecting the needs and concerns of rural areas and smaller states.
“If NPV is adopted, and winning is only about getting the most votes, a candidate might concentrate all of his efforts in the biggest cities, or the biggest states,” she argues. “We could see the end of presidential candidates who care about the needs and concerns of people in smaller states or outside of big cities.”
Video and partial transcript below via PragerU:
In every presidential election, only one question matters: which candidate will get the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College? Our Founders so deeply feared a tyranny of the majority that they rejected the idea of a direct vote for President. That’s why they created the Electoral College. For more than two centuries it has encouraged coalition building, given a voice to both big and small states, and discouraged voter fraud.
Unfortunately, there is now a well-financed, below-the-radar effort to do away with the Electoral College. It is called National Popular Vote or NPV, and it wants to do exactly what the Founders rejected: award the job of President to the person who gets the most votes nationally.
Even if you agree with this goal, it’s hard to agree with their method. Rather than amend the Constitution, which they have no chance of doing, NPV plans an end run around it.
Here’s what NPV does: it asks states to sign a contract to give their presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote instead of the winner of the state’s popular vote.
What does that mean in practice? It means that if NPV had been in place in 2004, for example, when George W. Bush won the national vote, California’s electoral votes would have gone to Bush, even though John Kerry won that state by 1.2 million votes! Can you imagine strongly Democratic California calmly awarding its electors to a Republican?
Another problem with NPV’s plan is that it robs states of their sovereignty. A key benefit of the Electoral College system is that it decentralizes control over the election. Currently, a presidential election is really 51 separate elections: one in each state and one in D.C.
These 51 separate processes exist, side-by-side, in harmony. They do not — and cannot — interfere with each other. California’s election code applies only to California and determines that state’s electors. So a vote cast in Texas can never change the identity of a California elector.
NPV would disrupt this careful balance. It would force all voters into one national election pool. Thus, a vote cast in Texas will always affect the outcome in California. And the existence of a different election code in Texas always has the potential to unfairly affect a voter in California.
Why? Because state election codes can differ drastically. States have different rules about early voting, registering to vote, and qualifying for the ballot. They have different policies regarding felon voting. They have different triggers for recounts.
Each and every one of these differences is an opportunity for someone, somewhere to file a lawsuit claiming unfair treatment. Why should a voter in New York get more or less time to early vote than a voter in Florida? Why should a hanging chad count in Florida, but not in Ohio? The list of possible complaints is endless.
And think of the opportunities for voter fraud if NPV is passed! Currently, an attempt to steal a presidential election requires phony ballots to appear or real ballots to disappear in the right state or combination of states, something that is very hard to anticipate. But with NPV, voter fraud anywhere can change the election results — no need to figure out which states you must swing; just add or subtract the votes you need — or don’t want — wherever you can most easily get away with it.
And finally, if NPV is adopted, and winning is only about getting the most votes, a candidate might concentrate all of his efforts in the biggest cities, or the biggest states. We could see the end of presidential candidates who care about the needs and concerns of people in smaller states or outside of big cities.