Newspaper column: National Popular Vote veto is right call

Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak rightly chose to stand up for his state instead of his party and vetoed Assembly Bill 186 — the ill-advised Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.

The bill landed on Sisolak’s desk after passing the Assembly and state Senate with every Republican voting in opposition and even five Democrats in the Assembly. It would have awarded Nevada’s six electoral votes — one for each representative and senator in Congress — not according to how Nevadans vote, but those six votes would have been awarded to the president and vice president team that wins the popular vote nationally.

AB186 would have negated Nevada’s votes entirely since it would matter not for whom we vote. It would matter only how the populous states such as California and New York vote.

“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,” Sisolak wrote in a press release explaining his first veto of the legislative session. “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.”

The Founders chose to elect presidents via an Electoral College rather than by popular vote to further the Federalist system in which each state is sovereign. They gave smaller states extra votes for each of its senators, just as every state sends two senators to Washington no matter its population. Until the 17th Amendment in 1913 changed the process to a popular vote, state Legislatures elected senators so the states could protect their sovereign powers from usurpation by Washington.

The National Popular Vote has already been approved in 14 states and the District of Columbia. That represents 189 electoral votes. The measure would be binding, though probably face a legal challenge, once states representing a majority of 270 out the 538 electoral votes join the compact.

Sisolak went on to say, “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.”

Approval of the National Popular Vote probably would have turned Nevada into a state ignored by the candidates for president. On the day of the veto, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was campaigning in the Silver State. A baker’s dozen of the 20-odd Democratic presidential contenders have already visited here, some multiple times and more visits are scheduled.

One proponent of the measure was Battle Born Progress. Its executive director, Annette Magnus, was quoted by various news media as saying, “We are disappointed that Governor Sisolak chose this bill, of all bills this session, to be his first veto. AB186 was a chance for Nevada to move towards the principle of every individual person’s vote for President mattering in national elections. This compact agreement would have eliminated the perception that one’s vote doesn’t really count because one lives in a ‘red’ state or ‘blue’ state, which serves as a source of disenfranchisement for many voters.”

Similar bills came up in the Nevada Legislature in 2009 and 2017, but failed to pass.

If the National Popular Vote had been in force in 2000 Nevada’s then four electoral votes would have been enough to flip the election to Al Gore, even though George W. Bush won the popular vote in Nevada by 49.5 percent to 46 percent, winning every county except Clark. Bush won the electoral vote 271 to 266, but lost the popular vote by 540,000 nationally.

The instigation for the current push is the fact that in 2016 Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote by 304 to 227, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million. Clinton won by 4 million votes in California.

This country was not founded as a democracy. It was founded as a republic … if we can keep it, as someone once said. The governor’s veto is a move in the right direction to keep it.

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.

10 comments on “Newspaper column: National Popular Vote veto is right call

  1. Steve says:

    And the reason Clinton lost was her’s and her campaign’s “strategic decision” to actively ignore those states Trump turned to his corner.
    Had the Clinton and her campaign listened to the Sanders campaign, they would have been actively defending those states by campaigning on the ground head to head with Trump.

    That alone shows the power of the electoral college to force candidates to pay attention to the whole country, not just the population centers. In fact, the Electoral College ensures all our votes are totally “franchised” and really do count in presidential races, unlike the twisted explanation offered by Annette Magnus @BBP

    While both major party candidates were and remain horrible choices, we should all be totally grateful the candidate who, obviously, did not understand how the country she wanted to run was (and still is) designed to elect it’s administrative leader was ejected by the system designed to elect the more “qualified” of the field. Believe it or not, the system in place elected the candidate the country deserved…at the time.

  2. Bruce Kester says:

    There are 3,141 counties in the United States. Trump won 3,084 of them. Clinton won 57….57 in the entire United States! To zero margins even closer, she got over 2 million votes more than Trump in 4 of the 5 boroughs in NYC. That alone spelled the difference in her 1.5 million popular vote nationwide advantage.

    Four New York City boroughs tipping the scales of the election for the rest of the United States should give evidence to the wisdom of the Constitution. The perpetrated fraud that claims 57 counties should have dictated the outcome of this presidential election relies on the rabid voice given to the left – In this instance. The tables will change….

    Conservatives will probably find little to agree with Sisolak during his tenure, but on this they should declare undying gratitude.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Los Angeles County has 9,818,615 people residing in it. It is the largest county by population in the country according to the last census.

    Kalawao County has 88 people residing in it. It is the smallest county by population in the country according to the last census.

    On what rational basis should these two counties be entitled to an equal vote in a presidential election?

    Surely not because the decisions made by the president equally affect both. Definitely not because the continued vitality of the nation is equally represented by the respective places?

    The ONLY basis, is that republicans can’t win elections when peoples voices carry equal weight.

    You guys man.

  4. Bruce Kester says:

    Anonymous: Read the 3rd paragraph of your response. My analysis utilized counties as the method used to pinpoint the popular vote by location. Your response is that by no rational basis should the people in these two counties be entitled to an equal vote in a presidential election.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Bruce I really tried to understand what you just wrote but I can’t. Could you dumb it down for me a little?

  6. Agreed Tom. The Electoral College ensures that winning supermajorities in one region of the country is not sufficient to win the White House. That’s the whole point. But…far leftists want the massive urban populations to control everything which is why they support this nonsense. In addition, the ridiculous national popular vote campaign violates Article I, Section 10’s requirement that interstate compacts receive congressional consent. Also…the fact that the structure of the Electoral College clause of the Constitution implies there is some limit on the power of state legislatures to ignore the will of their state’s people. I was surprised by Sisolak’s move but happy at the outcome.

  7. Bruce Kester says:

    Anonymous: I guess all I can suggest is you try to understand the meaning of a representative republic vs. a democratic form of government. Try to understand your outrage is because of the side of the issue you are on as it is now. When the pendulum swings will you merely jump to the side that best suits you?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Bruce I’m pretty clear on the meanings of words and when I’m not I can look them up on this here computer. So that’s nice.

    I just asked if you could dumb down what you said because in spite of knowing the meaning of all the words you used, they just didn’t make much sense in the context you used them.

    And finally, I recall a certain republican loudly condemning the Electoral college not so long ago when our last president fell behind the republican candidate for a short time on election night. He tweeted about the country needing to stage a revolution because of how wrong the Electoral College was and my guess is, his….followers, were fired up and ready to go.

    The right likes it now because they’ve won two elections when the majority of the voters didn’t want them to win. If tht changed, the right would change and right quick. Probably laughing loudly and saying stuff like how they “owned” the libs.

  9. Rincon says:

    So the votes of some minority individuals should count for more than those of the average voter because we don’t want oppression by the majority. Is that what we’re saying here? And am I right that the minority deserving this special treatment would be the one consisting of people from lower population areas, but no other minority deserves this kind of treatment. Also correct? OK, I think I’ve got it.

    Just one more question – Aren’t you guys against special treatment of minorities? Why is this different (other than the obvious)?

  10. Steve says:

    In this instance, “special treatment” is equally applied to all minorities.

    And those population centers happen to be full of totally despised wealthy people who want their voices to be louder than the rest of the country.

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