Nevada bill would bypass “antiquated” electoral college

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Clark County Election Department photo.

A stark divide in electoral political partisanship was on display Tuesday at an Assembly committee hearing on a bill to guarantee the state’s Electoral College votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Assembly Bill 186, titled “National Popular Vote,” proposes Nevada join an interstate compact with other states that have passed the measure. The legislation would only take effect after states with a majority of the Electoral College have passed similar legislation.

The bill would not abolish the Electoral College but would bypass the Twelfth Amendment which requires the election of the president and vice president be made via the Electoral College. The Constitution allows states to award their Electoral College votes in a manner of their choosing.

So far, 11 states and the District of Columbia have joined the compact, putting the total at 172 electoral votes. Last week, the Colorado Legislature passed the compact in both houses and it is expected to be signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, which would bring the electoral vote total of compact states to 181. Nevada, with its six electoral votes, would bring the tally to 187.

It takes 270 to win the presidential office.

“I want to be clear that this bill is not about partisanship, but a need for our voters current and future to feel and know that their vote matters in arguably the most important vote they will cast every four years,” said Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson, D-North Las Vegas, who is sponsoring the bill.  

All 11 lawmakers co-sponsoring the bill are Democrats. Supporters of the bill were prominently progressive groups like the League of Women Voters, Battle Born Progress, ACLU of Nevada. The measure was opposed by the Nevada Republican Party and affiliated groups.

Nevada Republican Party Vice-Chair Jim DeGraffenreid argued the compact favors heavily-populated states to the detriment of smaller states like Nevada, calling the compact a “constitutional trick to neuter the Electoral College” that would “reduce Nevada’s importance” possibly making the state “irrelevant.”

“To suggest that a state should disregard its own voters and instead follow the will of voters in some other state is the exact opposite of what the Framers intended,” DeGraffenreid said.

During public comments, which lasted nearly two hours, much of the opposition similarly centered around whether it was constitutional for states to fundamentally alter the purpose of the electoral college, with many arguing that the bill is not constitutional for a number of reasons, including the belief that Nevada voters would be disenfranchised by the compact.

Many supporters of the bill called the electoral college “antiquated” and focused on “one-person-one-vote” arguments that objected to the current system because it undemocratically gives some votes more power than others due to the way electoral votes are assigned to the states.

Analysis shortly after the 2016 presidential election found that a vote from Wyoming weighs 3.6 times more than an individual Californian’s vote, and the relative power of voters in small states is expected to become even more pronounced as the county’s population continues to concentrate in cities and away from rural states.

The movement for a national popular vote began after George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000, and has gained traction since Donald Trump won the presidency after losing the popular vote to Hilary Clinton by nearly three million votes in 2016.

A similar bill was introduced in Nevada in 2017; it only had one meeting and never made it past committee.

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This would not be happening if Clinton had won the presidency and it was the electoral college that voted her in. You cannot have it both ways. The college was set up specifically so everyone’s vote would count not just CA, NY, FL. This cannot change or the country will be lost.

  2. With a National Popular Vote deciding who our President will be, everyone’s vote counts equally. There is no reason the majority should be living under the tyranny of the minority.

  3. Just another example of how Nevada is quickly turning into California East. Go ahead, lose your voice in national elections. Along with that, lose any leverage with regard to what happens to Nevada land and water, or anything else for that matter. Our little block of votes will be powerless. Nevada wants something? Forget it. Why should anybody bargain with an absolutely irrelevant electoral college?
    When people voted Dems into the NV legislature it was probably because they innocently thought they were supporting education. They didn’t realize the needs of the entire state were going to be subsumed by the desires of a single large city on the coast. That was not the mandate.
    Our off the rails legislature has absolutely no concept of what they’re giving away for generations to come due to temporary insanity caused by Trump Derangement Syndrome.

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