Nevada’s Democrat Governor Deals Blow to National Popular Vote with Veto

Friday, May 31, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Steve Byas
Thursday, 30 May 2019

After being approved in the Nevada State Assembly, 23-17, and in the Nevada State Senate, 12-8, it appeared that the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact had picked up yet another state in its effort to circumvent the U.S. Constitution, and effectively abolish the Electoral College — without bothering with the amendment process outlined in the Constitution.

But the surprising veto by Governor Steve Sisolak (shown) on Thursday deals a stinging defeat to the hopes of those pushing the National Popular Vote (NPV). Most of the energy driving the NPV has come from Democrats (Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has even made the abolition of the Electoral College a centerpiece of her campaign), as they are upset that their 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, finished ahead of President Donald Trump in the popular vote, but lost in the Electoral College. Because Sisolak is a Democrat, most close observers of the battle over the NPV had largely conceded that Nevada would join the scheme to make an end-run around the amendment process and effectively terminate the Electoral College through an interstate compact.

Governor Sisolak explained why he chose to kill the NPV in his veto message. “Over the past several weeks, my office has heard from thousands of Nevadans across the state urging me to weigh the state’s role in our national elections. After thoughtful deliberation, I have decided to veto Assembly Bill 186. Once effective, the National Popular Vote Interstate 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.”

It is not uncommon to hear inaccurate remarks about the constitutional system of electing the president through presidential electors. First, it is often repeated that Hillary Clinton “won” the popular vote, although neither she nor Trump actually won a majority of the popular vote. Other candidates won enough votes to deny either candidate an actual majority of the popular vote. Secondly, we often hear that we do not choose the president through the popular vote, but actually we do. Each state’s popular vote determines which candidate wins the electoral votes in that state. In contrast, the NPV would require a state’s electoral votes be awarded to the candidate who ran first (not necessarily who received a majority of the vote) in the national popular vote, regardless of which candidate received a plurality of the vote in a state.

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