by April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
The Democratic-controlled Nevada State Legislature has signaled its support for bypassing the nation’s electoral college system and electing presidents based on the popular vote, though the effort still has significant hurdles to clear before becoming a reality.
Assembly Joint Resolution 6, approved by the state senate Thursday, proposes entering Nevada into the National Popular Vote Compact, an interstate agreement wherein states commit to allocating their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The compact becomes effective only after the number of states committed represent a majority of the electoral votes.
AJR6 enters the compact via an amendment to the Nevada State Constitution. That means it will need to be approved by lawmakers in a subsequent legislative session (presumably 2025) and then approved by Nevada voters during a general election (presumably 2026).
The resolution passed both houses on mostly party lines, with Democratic state Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) joining Republicans in opposition.
Nevada could join the compact directly without amending the state constitution, but an effort to do just that failed two legislative sessions ago.
In 2019, legislative Democrats passed a bill to join the compact. It was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Sisolak wrote in his veto statement that the compact “could diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada in national electoral contests and force Nevada’s electors to side with whoever wins the nationwide popular vote, rather than the candidate Nevadans choose.”
That reasoning mirrors arguments Republicans have made against the compact.
Resolutions are not subject to gubernatorial vetoes.
The movement for a national popular vote compact began after George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won the majority of electoral votes over Al Gore in 2000. Interest increased following the 2016 presidential election, when Donald Trump won the presidency after losing the popular vote to Hilary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted the National Popular Vote Compact. Those states represent 195 electoral votes. That means states representing an additional 75 electoral votes are needed before the presidency could be guaranteed to the national popular vote winner via the compact.
Nevada has six electoral votes.
[editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect state Sen. Dina Neal’s vote]
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