Bill to elect president by national popular vote heard in Nevada Legislature
March 21, 2017
Advocates for the National Popular Vote said on Tuesday Nevada's electoral college delegates should match the presidential candidate who won the most votes nationwide whether or not that's the candidate who won in Nevada.
"For all practical purposes, we elect the president of the Battleground States of America versus the President of the United States of America," said Saul Anuzis, senior advisor to the effort.
He pointed out five of the nation's 45 presidents lost the popular vote but won the presidency in the electoral college. That list includes not only President Trump but George W. Bush. The other three were in the 1800s.
He said as a result, all candidate attention and money is concentrated in just those states, ignoring the four-fifths of states that are reliably red or blue and not up for grabs each cycle.
"Wouldn't it make more sense to have a system where voters in every state, during every election, are relevant?" he asked.
AB274 would make Nevada the 13th state to ratify the compact directly tying the presidential election to the vote nationwide instead of just the voters in Nevada. He said that means if Nevada voted for one candidate but, nationwide, the other major candidate won the popular vote, Nevada's delegates to the Electoral College would be those selected by the candidate who won the national vote.
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He said the plan doesn't change the constitution or the Electoral College, that it would just assign delegates to the college based on the nationwide vote.
But opponents including Janine Hansen of Eagle Forum argue the compact would make Nevada and all other small states into a "flyover state," ignored by presidential candidates. She also said Nevada can get rid of the "winner take all" method of awarding electors and, like Nebraska and Maine, award them proportionately according to how the vote went.
Hansen also argued the plan violates the part of the U.S. Constitution that requires states get Congressional approval to negotiate a compact between two or more states.
But committee legal counsel Kevin Powers told the members the constitution gives states the power to decide how to pick their electors and not all contracts or compacts require congressional approval. He said it may require that approval unless it increases state power at the expense of federal supremacy. The presumption, he said, prevails the bill is constitutional until proven not.
Former Assemblyman Erv Nelson told the panel the change would give complete control over the presidency to just a few large states.
C.T. Wang of Las Vegas and several others said they believe the plan simply strips away Nevada's votes, ignoring the fact Nevada's electors are supposed to represent their voters, not the overall national vote.
There were also a couple of opponents who charged the only reason this bill is being pushed is because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump won the electoral vote and the presidency.
The committee took no action on the bill.