By Taylor Avery, Las Vegas Review Journal, May 3, 2023
CARSON CITY — Nevada could soon be the latest state to join an interstate compact that would award Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate with the most votes nationwide under a resolution heard by lawmakers Tuesday.
Assembly Joint Resolution 6, presented by Assemblyman Howard Watts III, D-Las Vegas, would amend the Nevada Constitution to allow the state to join the National Popular Vote Compact.
The compact, which would become active only if states representing 270 Electoral College votes join, would require the state’s presidential electors to cast their vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote, effectively negating the Electoral College.
“I believe every voter’s voice should have the same weight, and that is what AJR6 seeks to do,” Watts said.
The state would be able to withdraw from the compact through statutory action. But before the state is able to join the compact, the resolution would need to be passed during this legislative session and the 2025 session before being placed on the ballot for voters’ approval.
Similar legislation was introduced during the 2019 session, but failed after then-Gov. Steve Sisolak vetoed the measure on the grounds that the compact, if enacted, could “diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada.”
Presidential electors currently sign a pledge to vote for the presidential candidate with the most votes in the state, transferring all of the state’s Electoral College votes for that candidate.
The measure is intended to prevent a situation in which a presidential candidate wins the popular vote but loses the election because he or she didn’t win a majority of Electoral College votes.
The compact has been enacted by 16 states already, totaling 195 electoral college votes.
But some lawmakers, including Sen. Lisa Krasner, R-Reno, raised concerns about the measure’s constitutionality.
“You can call it a compact. You can call it whatever you want, but it seems like you’re trying to circumvent the United States Constitution,” Krasner said.
But Watts said the measure would leave the Electoral College in place and would instead allow states, which are given the power through the U.S. Constitution to determine how they appoint presidential electors, to “choose to come together and allocate their electors based on a different methodology.”
Several groups spoke in support of the bill, including Silver State Voices, Battle Born Progress, One APIA Nevada and a spokesperson from the compact.
“The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact does not eliminate the Electoral College. In fact, I think it strengthens and preserves it,” said Ray Hayes, a national spokesman for the compact.
But several groups spoke against the bill, including representatives from the Independent American Party, the Nevada Republican Party and Nevada Right to Life, who raised concerns that the compact would hurt Nevada voters.
“We don’t believe that it makes good sense for Nevada to work so hard to become first in the West in the primary election and then relegate ourselves to irrelevance in the general election,” Nevada Republican Party National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid said. “Nor should Nevada surrender our voice to bigger states.”