Legislature Seeks to Change How NV Elects President

Kevin Dietrich

Nevada’s Democratic-controlled legislature is pushing a plan to change how our nation elects its president, one that could go against the wishes and interests of Silver State voters.

Last month the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution 6, which would amend the state constitution to adopt the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Under the compact, Nevada’s Electoral College votes would be awarded to the presidential candidate with the most popular votes nationwide, even if that candidate fails to win a majority of votes in our state.

This would mean a candidate running on a platform diametrically opposed to Nevada interests, say against gambling or for dumping nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, would get the state’s electoral votes if they received the majority of votes nationwide, regardless of how Nevadans cast their ballots.

The compact would irreparably alter the U.S. Electoral College, which encourages candidates to concentrate on swing states, which has included Nevada in recent elections.

Under the compact, candidates, in a quest for the greatest number of possible votes, would be much more likely to concentrate their efforts on the nation’s population centers, especially high-population areas along the coasts.

The resolution was passed in the Assembly by a 27-14 margin, with the vote along party lines. In the Senate, the vote was 12-9 in favor, with only Democrat Dina Neal dissenting from her party.

Four years ago, Democrats in the legislature passed a bill to join the compact, but it was vetoed by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Sisolak wrote in his veto statement that the 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.”

Legislative resolutions cannot be vetoed by a governor.

At present, Nevada’s six electoral votes go to the presidential candidate who gets the most votes in Nevada, through the Electoral College. This system has been used since the state joined the Union in 1864.

In fact, in 48 of 50 states electoral votes are allocated by state to the candidate who captures the popular vote in each state. Nebraska and Maine are outliers, allocating electoral votes based on which candidates win each of the state’s congressional districts.

The compact would go into effect among participating states only after they collectively represent at an absolute majority of the nation’s 538 electoral votes.

At present, 16 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. These states, which include California, New York and Illinois, have 205 electoral votes between them, which means they need another 65 electoral votes.

Under the Nevada constitutional amendment process, the legislature will have to vote in favor of AJR6 again during the 2025 legislative session before it is placed on the ballot the following year to allow Nevada voters to give final approval.

The compact push has gained steam over the past generation because of the election of Republicans George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016 over Democrats Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, respectively, even though both losing candidates captured more popular votes than their foes.

Kevin Dietrich

Kevin Dietrich

Director of Mainstream Media

Kevin Dietrich joined Nevada Policy in 2022 and currently serves as the Director of Mainstream Media.

He has more than 20 years of experience in communications, including serving as the director of communications and marketing for the South Carolina Bankers Association, working as a speechwriter for South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and assisting with internal communications for CVS Caremark.

Kevin graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in Journalism and a minor in History. A fifth-generation Californian, he spent a decade as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, New York, New Hampshire and South Carolina.