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Commentary

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact does not:

1) Do away with the electoral college

2) Impact Nevada’s “first in the west” presidential caucus status

3) Impact Nevada’s influence on the nominee selection process

4) Marginalize Nevada voters’ votes in the general election; the election of the president

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact does:

1) Maintain states’ rights to determine how to appoint presidential electors

2) Continue to allow political parties the right to determine their nominating process

3) Maintain Nevada’s importance in the general election

Article II Section I of the United States Constitution gives the states the absolute authority to determine how their presidential electors are appointed. Currently all states, except Maine and Nebraska, appoint electors to the electoral college who are pledged to the presidential ticket that receives the most votes in the state.

State legislatures may at any time, with the approval of the governor, change the way electors are appointed. Even without the interstate compact, any state could decide to appoint their electors to the presidential slate that receives the most votes nationally. The compact only ensures enough state legislatures and governors decide to appoint electors to the electoral college so that potentially 270 electoral votes are cast for the presidential slate that receives the most votes nationally.

Any state may withdraw from the compact at any time by legislatively deciding to appoint their presidential electors by another method. I also use the word “potentially” as there is no constitutional provision requiring an elector vote for a specific candidate. Any elector may vote for any candidate, the so-called “faithless elector.” Bottom line, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an affirmation of states’ rights as detailed in Article II Section I of the United States Constitution.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact deals with how presidential electors are appointed following the general election. It does not apply to the nominating process used by any political party to select its presidential candidate. Nevada’s place in the nominating process remains intact and unaffected. The February caucuses will take place in accordance with party rules. Because of the early caucus, presidential candidates will continue to visit Nevada frequently during the months leading to the caucuses.

Nevada has six electoral votes. As of the end of June 2019, the state had just under 1.6 million active registered voters out of approximately 2.3 million residents of voting age. In November 2016, the last presidential election, just over 1.1 million or 76 percent of active registered voters at that time cast ballots. Under the current winner take all process, Nevada is only important if a candidate deems its six electoral votes to be important. Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, all 1.6 million votes are needed to win election.

One argument often raised by opponents is that the presidential winner will be decided by California and New York. That can not happen. According to the United States Election Project, between them, California and New York make up only 18 percent of the population. The top ten states, while comprising 54 percent of the population are spread across the political spectrum, not favoring one party’s candidates over another.

A similar argument is made for cities. According to the National Popular Vote website, the top 50 most populated cities, those cities with 365,000 or more inhabitants, make up only 15 percent of the national population. In Nevada, all we have to do is look at our elections for governor. Governor Sisolak is the first Democratic Party governor elected since 1994 despite the fact that our largest city, Las Vegas and county, Clark, are overwhelming Democratic.

As more voters unaffiliate with either major party; currently almost 30 percent in Nevada and a trend happening in most states, the importance of all votes increases.

Smaller states, those who opponents say would be disadvantaged under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, do not agree. Of the 25 states that have either joined the compact or are in the process of joining, only four are listed as one of the top ten states in population. Rather than believe they would be even more marginalized in the election of the president, they believe their impact, the votes of their citizens would be more meaningful and directly impact the results.

States exercising their authority under Article II Section I of the United States Constitution to appoint their presidential electors based on the national popular vote result does not empower an overbearing majority. It does empower a true majority.

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Doug Goodman is founder and executive director of Nevadans for Election Reform.

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