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Nevada Poised To Become 15th State To Sidestep Traditional Electoral College Outcome

President Hillary Clinton?

That might have been the result of the 2016 presidential election — if the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact were in effect.

With a state Senate vote Tuesday, Nevada is close to becoming the latest state to drop the traditional practice of awarding all its electors to the presidential candidate who won the state. Instead, Nevada would award its six electors to whomever receives the most votes across the entire country.

According to the National Popular Vote organization, which oversees efforts to persuade states to join the compact, 14 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to pledge their 189 electors to the winner of the national popular vote — regardless of which candidate won the state. Nevada's electoral votes would bring the total to 195. Once 270 electors are pledged, the compact would kick in.

As the Electoral College comes under greater scrutiny, there are movements to give more weight to the popular vote. Democrats in particular have been stung by the Electoral College's vote count, which effectively gives disproportional power to smaller, rural states that tend to vote Republican. In addition to President Trump, George W. Bush also won the White House without winning the popular vote.

Nevada's Senate voted 12-8 to join the agreement, entirely along party lines. Every Republican voted against the proposal. Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has not indicated whether he will sign the measure into law.

As NPR has reported, the popular vote movement seems to be gathering steam. In February, 11 states were on board. Since then, Colorado, Delaware and New Mexico have signed on.

But critics of the effort say it could make rural states irrelevant in choosing the president and would give even more power to highly-populated states like California and New York. Presidential candidates might even forgo campaigning in many states, they say.

"If we go to a national popular vote, why would they even bother coming here? Our Constitution says we're a republic, not a democracy," Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler said last month, according to The Washington Times. "I voted 'no.' "

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 22, 2019 at 11:00 PM CDT
In the original headline, it could be misconstrued that Nevada was intending to abandon the Electoral College. Actually, Nevada legislators are considering a new way of awarding the state's electors, within the existing Electoral College system.
Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Schwartz worked as a reporter for Washington, DC, member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Schwartz worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Schwartz was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").
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