Governor Sisolak vetoes Presidential popular vote compact bill

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CARSON CITY, NV (KOLO) UPDATE: Governor Steve Sisolak has decided to veto a bill that would have put Nevada on the list of states casting their electoral college votes for the winner of the national popular vote for President, regardless of the vote totals in their states.

In a news release, the Governor writes, “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. I recognize that many of my fellow Nevadans may disagree on this point and I appreciate the legislature’s thoughtful consideration of this important issue. As Nevada’s governor, I am obligated to make such decisions according to my own conscience. In cases like this, where Nevada’s interests could diverge from the interests of large states, I will always stand up for Nevada.”

The Governor's letter regarding the veto is attached to this story.

ORIGINAL STORY: Every four years Nevada voters along with the rest of America go to the polls to choose our President.

But the actual election of the President takes place later--as members of the electoral college meet in state capitols around the country. Nevada's six votes-- based on the size of its congressional delegation-- all go to the top vote getter in the state.

It's an afterthought which rarely garners attention, except when the winner of the national popular vote is not the winner in the electoral college.That's happened five times in our history, most recently in 2016. Frustration with that result has added momentum to a campaign to do something about it.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact wouldn't do away with the electoral college. It's an agreement between states to cast their electoral college votes for the winner of the national popular vote regardless of the vote totals in their states. And this session Nevada lawmakers were asked through Assembly Bill 186 to sign on.

The argument for passage was simple.

"The election of the President is the most important election in the world and the American people think every vote should be equal and every vote should count," said Barry Fadem, president of National Popular Vote.

But others worried it would diminish Nevada's influence in national affairs.

We've attracted a good deal of attention in recent election cycles. Candidates can't ignore our six electoral college votes, especially in a swing state, and so--the argument goes--they need to come here to campaign and while here they have to engage local voters on issues important to us.

The concern even divided the Democratic super majority in the Assembly.

"If the math to get to the White House is only about the popular vote then I don't see how candidates continue to engage with small states. So that was my concern," said Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson, who voted no.

Fellow Washoe County Democratic Assemblyman Skip Daly didn't share that concern.

"States were meant to be the laboratory of democracy so let's see how it works with the compact. If we don't like it we can always withdraw from it."

There are also worries it is unconstitutional, but the legislature's legal counsel felt otherwise. AB 186 passed in both houses, and Friday was officially enrolled and sent to the governor.

Governor Sisolak has five days to sign or veto it. No one we've talked with has any indication what he might do.

The compact wouldn't be triggered until states with a total of 270 electoral college votes--that's what's needed for a win--sign on. If Nevada joins the total will reach 195. It's unlikely to reach 270 before next year's election.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019



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