Another state has thrown its weight behind the effort to overturn the Electoral College, established in the U.S. Constitution to select the President of the United States.
The Nevada state legislature has passed a law requiring the state’s electors to vote for the presidential candidate who won the most votes in the national popular vote, instead of the candidate who won the most votes from Nevada’s voters.
The Nevada measure passed on a party-line vote, with Democrats voting to circumvent the Constitutionally-mandated Electoral College. Since the 2016 election, when Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency by losing in the Electoral College, Democrats have pushed to change the presidential election rules.
A number of state legislatures controlled by Democrats have voted to get around the Electoral College, though the constitutionality of such laws has yet to be tested in the courts. Nevada’s Democratic governor is expected to sign the bill, making Nevada the 16th state to attempt to opt out of the Electoral College.
Supporters of the law -- the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact -- say the measure is constitutional because it does not materially alter the Electoral College. It would simply require a state’s electors to ignore the vote totals within the state and instead vote for electors who got the most votes nationwide. That objective could be achieved if states passing the law have a total of 270 electoral votes, the minimum required to win the presidency.
The Constitution established the Electoral College to give small states a more equal footing with more populous states. A state has a number of votes in the electoral college equal to its number of senators and representatives. Since every state has two senators, even small states have at least some electoral votes.
Other states that have approved similar legislation -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state and the District of Columbia -- are all controlled by Democrats.
In addition to losing the 2016 election after winning the popular vote, Democrats also lost the 2000 race to Republican George W. Bush, even though Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote.
The 12th Amendment to the Constitution establishes the way U.S. presidents have been elected since 1804. Another way to mandate election by popular vote would be to change the Electoral College, which some have advocated, but that would require passage of another Constitutional amendment, needing the approval of three-fourths of the states.
Republicans have not yet said whether they will challenge the Nevada law, and others like it, in court. Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation to elect presidents based on the popular vote.
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