Nevada Gov. Sisolak Vetoes National Popular Vote Bill

May 30, 2019

Nevada's Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak vetoed a bill Thursday that would have seen the state join the National Popular Vote compact. Sisolak said that smaller states, like Nevada, could see their influence wane in presidential elections should the initiative take effect. This is the third time the state has failed to join, although the first time a bill has made it as far as the governor's desk.

14 states and Washington, D.C., with a total of 189 electoral votes have so far approved the initiative. It would take effect^ once that total reached 270, the number needed to win the presidency. States in the compact agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote, a choice that could differ* from that made by its own citizens. (Article II of the Constitution leaves it to the legislature of each state to decide how it wishes to allocate its electoral votes).

The map above shows how the states currently in the compact voted in the 2016 presidential election. As it turns out, it also shows how these states voted in the 2008 and 2012 elections. In fact, aside from Colorado and New Mexico, these states have all voted Democratic since at least 1992.  

There's been little interest in this proposal from traditionally red states. Many of them are smaller and thus over-represented in the Electoral College. Additionally, two of the past five elections (2000 and 2016) have seen the electoral and popular votes diverge. Republicans were the beneficiary in both cases.

^ Any actual implementation would likely be delayed by legal challenges over the constitutionality of the approach.

* In Nevada's case, that is pretty rare. Aside from 2016, when it voted for Clinton, and 1976, the state has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1912.

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