Newspaper column: Bill could dilute Nevada’s presidential voting power

There is a bill pending in the Legislature that could have the effect of diluting the state’s voting power in presidential elections.

Assembly Bill 274 would rope Nevada into a compact called the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.” Instead of awarding Nevada’s six electoral votes — one for each representative and senator in Congress — according to how Nevadans vote, those six electoral voters would be awarded to the president and vice president team that wins the popular vote nationally.

This essentially cuts Nevada’s votes from six to four, since the votes nationwide would be proportional to population and exclude the power of our two senators.

The change would take place when enough states join the compact to constitute a majority of electoral votes, which is 270 of the 538 electoral votes. Thus far enough states have signed on to constitute about 165 electoral votes. But because it is a compact, Congress would have to agree to it as well.

The Constitution leaves it up to each state’s Legislature to decide how to award its electoral votes. Currently all but two states — Maine and Nebraska — award all their electoral votes to the statewide winner. Maine and Nebraska award two electoral votes — equal to the number of its senators — to the statewide winner, but award one electoral vote to the winner in each congressional district.

AB274 went before the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections recently.

Scott Drexel, one of the backers of the popular vote compact, told lawmakers, “The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The short comings of the current system of electing the president stem from state winner-take-all statutes, that is state laws that award all electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each separate state. The winner-take-all rule has permitted five of our 45 presidents to come into office without having won the most popular votes nationwide.”

Popular vote advocate Saul Anuzis argued before the committee that the current system results in candidates concentrating their campaigns in so-called battleground states instead of trying to sway the most voters nationally.

In response, Assemblyman Ira Hansen of Sparks noted that in 2016 Nevada was indeed a battleground state. He pointed out Nevadans donated $6.7 million to presidential campaigns, but those campaigns spent $55 million in Nevada, netting substantial revenues for state media outlets and other businesses.

But Anuzis suggested that Nevada may be a fleeting battleground state. It has supported Democrats in the past three presidential elections and backed Bill Clinton twice before siding with George W. Bush twice.

Yes, Hillary Clinton won more popular votes than Donald Trump, but he won more state electors, which is what the Founders envisioned. (Trump won the Electoral College vote by 304 to 227. Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million. She won California by 4 million votes. So Trump won the combined popular vote in the rest of the nation.)

Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has joined the fray, calling the Electoral College undemocratic.

“I believe that focusing on the Electoral College is important no matter how you do it, because what’s happened this decade, these last several elections, where we have clearly two elections, the Gore election and this election. In this election Hillary Clinton will wind up getting almost 3 million votes more than Trump. It’s time the system goes away. It is very undemocratic,” Reid said in an interview.

Pay no attention to the fact Reid served in the Senate for 30 years, where each state gets two votes no matter the size of its population. Most undemocratic.

The Founders established the nation on a federalist system, not a democracy. Certain enumerated powers were assigned the federal government while the rest were reserved to the states and the people. That is why they created the Senate and — until 1913’s 17th Amendment — had state Legislatures pick their senators. That is why the Electoral College gives added weight to smaller states.

If Nevada wishes to assure greater attention and provide a chance for candidates to win votes here, we could adopt a system like that in Maine and Nebraska.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

25 comments on “Newspaper column: Bill could dilute Nevada’s presidential voting power

  1. Rincon says:

    I still don’t understand why one person’s vote should be worth more than that of another.

    “Popular vote advocate Saul Anuzis argued before the committee that the current system results in candidates concentrating their campaigns in so-called battleground states instead of trying to sway the most voters nationally.” Anyone here have a valid counter argument?

  2. bc says:

    In general, 40% of folks reliably vote Democrat, 40% reliably vote Republican and 20% in the middle sway most elections. So in the battle for that 20% campaigns have to look for the bang for the buck and face time with the candidate. My guess is that there will be little inclination for the campaigns to worry much about states like Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska or other small states.

    Little has changed since the founding in that matter. The small states were very afraid of Virginia and New York, they were afraid that the Federal government would only care about the needs of large states and not care at all about Rhode Island and Delaware and the like.

    The remarkable thing about our Constitution is the founders emphasis on checks and balances. Each part of government is checked to keep one branch from overwhelming the others. The Electoral College was added to continue that emphasis, to provide checks and balances to the various states and their needs so that the one national election we conduct the candidates will have more incentive to look at more than California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois.

    Hillary and Gore both lost because they did not run a national campaign. Hillary spent little time in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, assuming that all were solid blue states. That assumption cost her the election. Trump ran a strong national campaign, campaigning hard in states like Wisconsin and Michigan that he had little chance in winning and taking nothing for granted. In the end he won enough of the blue states to pull it off.

  3. Barbara says:

    Excellent article. People unfortunately equate democracy with equality and fairness when in reality federalism insures a broader, more difused power structure, and therefore a more representative government.

  4. Rincon says:

    “Hillary and Gore both lost because they did not run a national campaign.” Since they both won the popular vote, it seems that their mistake was to run too much of a national campaign. Should have concentrated on the states that were close. To hell with the rest of them.

    “The Electoral College was added to continue that emphasis, to provide checks and balances to the various states and their needs so that the one national election we conduct the candidates will have more incentive to look at more than California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois.”

    Ah, yes. The tyranny of the majority argument. Wouldn’t want the majority to call the shots, would we? Funny, Conservatives hate giving extra benefits to minorities, except, of course, when they are the minority. Then it’s different.

  5. bc says:

    Hillary ran a campaign preaching to her echo chamber. She did not campaign on a national level working to reach states here in flyover country. As part of that national campaign she should have worked on states that were close, not disparage the entire world of blue collar democrats as being “deplorables” and cheer for the unemployment of the blue collar democrats in the coal industry.

    As a liberal, you should not support the tyranny of the majority, after all the tyranny of the majority is what has worked to hold minorities down for the last few centuries.

    You call me a conservative, not sure if that is true or not. I am a Republican that has always stood for equal rights as equal rights and equal treatment under the law is the cornerstone of law and order and that to me is part of what being a republican stands for. And before you respond, I did not vote for the orange carnival barker for President, I voted for Clinton.

  6. Rincon says:

    My point was that running a campaign to appeal to all voters is insufficient. The Electoral College makes it imperative to target specific states more than others, which leads to neglect of said others.

    If you truly feel that people in smaller states need more representation than the rest of us, then perhaps you also feel that other minorities need more representation as well. If not, why do you only favor the small state resident minority?

    The tyranny of the majority is well addressed by the Bill of Rights and the Senate. The Electoral College weakens any President who does not win the popular vote and denies the will of the people.

    Since you voted for Clinton, it would be hard to characterize you as a Conservative, although you might be a conservative with a small c. Either way, I admire your unwillingness to be a lap dog for the Republican Party.

  7. Steve says:

    But it is perfectly fine to be a lapdog for the other major party, huh…

    I didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton.

    No “lapdog” here.

  8. bc says:

    You have a point about weakening a president without a majority vote. A good president can overcome that but not always. Time will tell if the current president can overcome this, and while his administration is young I am not optimistic at the moment.

    I don’t so much think that small states need additional representation in the government, the formula for the Senate provides that, but I think that a president should run a campaign that takes into account the needs of small states.

    A national popular vote for president will focus Democrats on the coasts and Illinois, that is where the most bang for the buck is for their party and they can win outright with these states. They will never set foot outside of this echo chamber and completely lose connection with their blue collar roots.

    The Republicans will focus on Texas, Florida and the interior states and as the minority party will have to run their campaign to gain some votes from the coasts, but the Democrats can run their entire campaign on a handful of states and have no idea what is going on in the Midwest, South or Intermountain West.

  9. Rincon says:

    Since a popular vote system would require persuading voters instead of the voters of only selected states, it would be a foolish candidate that would focus only on states where they have already persuaded most of the voters. Preaching to the choir would hold few benefits.

  10. Steve says:

    Except that choir would consist of the population comprising the needed majority to quell the voices of states just like Nevada.
    No candidate would give a hoot about the voices they silence via suppression by majorities like those that exist in places like Illinois.

  11. bc says:

    That is the point Steve, if I am running a Democrat for president, I would focus my resources on getting out the vote in California, the new England states along with Illinois and perhaps Florida. Hillary just showed that a Democrat can win the popular vote with only those states. Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and other democrat leaning states? Who cares? And for the South, intermountain West, Midwest and their issues, irrelevant.

    Illinois is as blue as they come, not to many minorities are suppressed here.

  12. Steve says:

    Yup, a popular vote would do precisely the opposite of what Rincon claims.

  13. Rincon says:

    You guys are tying yourselves into knots trying to justify giving a minority greater power than the majority. I don’t like political correctness and this is the Conservative version. You’re just one more minority that wants more than your share of power.

  14. Steve says:

    OK Rincon.
    Get to work on that constitutional amendment to override the Electoral College.

    You urban city peeps want to control the whole country, like Mexico City has total say over the whole country of Mexico.

    A popular vote would totally shut the voices of the rural states and the people who reside in them.
    At least the Electoral College forces candidate to acknowledge places outside their base.
    As the Democrats discovered when their weak candidate failed to campaign outside Democrat strongholds.

    BTW, latest reports from Reuters and AP are:

    Janet Yellen on the short list to lead the fed.
    The much hated Export/Import bank on the list for revival, both open vacancies to be filled with administration nominees.
    Sudden strong distrust of Russia.
    Making “nice” with China.
    Bannon under a cloud amid shrinking influence and responsibility, this irritating the far right.
    Jared Kushner ( a lifelong New York Democrat) gaining influence and responsibility.
    Yup, the new administration is a dark cloud of total alt right conservatism.
    Anyone who watches even the least bit of news knows a New York City Republican is equal to a moderate Democrat in 90% of the rest of the USA.
    It happened faster than I thought it would.
    Liberal, Conservative it matters not. You were both fooled, you got what you would have no matter which puppet ended up where the “orange” one is now.

  15. Rincon says:

    “A popular vote would totally shut the voices of the rural states and the people who reside in them.”

    Is it not true that by the same logic, a popular vote would shut the voices” of black people, Hispanics, Native Americans, gay people, short people and redheads? Why do you think political correctness should only apply to rural people? Or do you like political correctness generally?

    Speaking of Trump, we now have the following list:

    Erik Prince: “The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.”

    Jeff Sessions: “…had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on two occasions despite insisting during his confirmation hearing that he had no contact with the Russians during the campaign.”

    Michael Flynn: “…resigned as Trump’s national security adviser following reports that he had not only talked with Kislyak during the transition but that — contrary to his assertions — he had discussed the recently-imposed sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama Administration as a punishment for the election meddling. Flynn, through a lawyer, said he would be interviewed by Congress in regard to the Russian meddling into the election but would only do so if he was granted full immunity.” How can you grant immunity if no crime was committed?

    Jared Kushner: “Trump’s son-in-law — and someone with a vast portfolio in the administration — met with Kislyak and Flynn at Trump Tower during the presidential transition period. Kushner also met with a Russian bank executive at Kislyak’s request.”

    Paul Manafort: “…who served as Trump’s campaign chairman for a large chunk of the GOP nomination fight, has long had ties to pro-Putin forces un Ukraine — having spent a decade working with Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych.”

    Carter page: “…brought on as a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign on March 2016… spent three years in the Moscow office of Merrill Lynch and claimed to be an adviser to several; state-owned and run energy companies. Page was eventually fired from the campaign in late September after reports that during a July trip to Moscow he has huddled with a number of senior Russian executives, a claim he denied.” He denied it, but Trump fired him anyway. Does Trump believe him or not?

    Roger Stone: “…noted political gadfly and Trump friend and quasi-adviser, has acknowledged that he exchanged Twitter messages with Guccifer 2.0, the hacker allegedly behind the leaking of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”

    Devin Nunes: “In the final analysis, Nunes acted more like a Trump aide or lawyer than like the chair of a House committee. It looks as if the Trump administration used him to provide a form of external validation of Trump’s claims of improper surveillance — and that’s not his role.”

    Trump has consistently refused to say anything negative about Putin or Russia. He actually complimented them repeatedly and defended their politics and their system.

    Russia clearly released the information garnered during its hacking activities in an effort to throw the election towards Trump.

    But the Conservatives here see no reason for concern…

  16. Steve says:

    Oh Rincon, catch up.

    Over the past 48 hours, the outsider politician who pledged to upend Washington has:

    — Abandoned his vow to label China a currency manipulator.

    — Rethought his hands-off assessment of the Syrian conflict — and ordered a missile attack.

    — Turned his warm approach toward Vladimir Putin decidedly chilly and declared U.S.-Russia relations “may be at an all-time low.”

    — Decided NATO isn’t actually obsolete, as he had claimed.

    — Realized the U.S. Export-Import Bank is worth keeping around.

    And Jared Kushner is a lifelong Democrat.
    You got played, you Illinois Democrat, you.

  17. Steve says:

    “Is it not true that by the same logic, a popular vote would shut the voices” of black people, Hispanics, Native Americans, gay people, short people and redheads?”

    you funny, you urban control phreak.

  18. deleted says:

    Rincon you can add this to your list:

    ““It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” he said.” Mike Pompeo orange balls CIA director today.

    ““Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down? BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by WikiLeaks,” he wrote in a Twitter post in July that included a link to a conservative blog. The emails to which the post referred showed that Democratic Party officials favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the primary.” Mike Pompeo orange balls propaganda minister pre electoral “victory”.

  19. Steve says:

    Patrick’s beginning to see it.

    New York City Republicans are moderate Democrats.

    And all politics involves “evolution” as they discover reality as opposed to campaigning.

    Beer Summit! Obama was OJT too. Glad I didn’t vote for him either.

  20. Rincon says:

    Actually becoming President has a way of moving extreme candidates closer to the middle. For example, Obamacare is a far cry from the socialized medicine that Liberals envision.

    BTW, just what did Russia do to bring U.S. – Russian relations to an “all time low?” Is it possible that Trump has had to abandon his plans with Russia because he has been outed?

  21. Steve says:

    Don’t believe Russia did anything other than be Russia.

    Simply think Trump is another OJT President. But he seems to be a fast learner.

  22. […] vote by 304 to 227, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million individual votes — a bill was introduced that would have had Nevada join in something called the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the […]

  23. […] vote by 304 to 227, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million individual votes — a bill was introduced that would have had Nevada join in something called the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the […]

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