National Popular Vote Momentum Stalls in Two States

By: - May 31, 2019 12:00 am

Voters in the 2018 midterm elections in Henderson, Nevada. The Silver State rejected a measure to join an interstate agreement to sidestep the Electoral College. John Locher/The Associated Press

It has been a banner year for the national popular vote movement across the country. But momentum has stalled in two states that have rejected plans to join the interstate pact that sidesteps the Electoral College.

This week, Nevada and Maine set aside plans to join the agreement under which states pledge to assign their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gets the most votes across the entire country.

Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak vetoed a measure approved by the Democratic-controlled legislature, saying in a statement the compact “could diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada in national electoral contests.”

The measure mostly passed along party lines in the legislature, though five Democrats in the state Senate joining Republicans in opposition.

In Maine, the state House rejected a similar measure this week. The bill had bipartisan opposition, with all Republicans and 21 Democrats voting against it. Several lawmakers called it a “knee-jerk” reaction to President Donald Trump’s election, where he lost the popular vote.

The Maine state Senate passed the measure May 15, with all Republicans and two Democrats voting against it. The bill heads back to the Senate, where lawmakers will vote yet again on the measure.

So far, with strong support from Democratic lawmakers and governors, 14 states and the District of Columbia have joined the compact, accounting for 189 electoral votes.

The compact would go into effect once member states account for the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president. To reach that goal, the compact is going to need Republican support, which remains a challenge. Many Republican state lawmakers and former party officials who are longtime supporters of the idea are struggling to convince their colleagues not to abandon the movement just because Trump benefited from the current system.

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Matt Vasilogambros
Matt Vasilogambros

Matt Vasilogambros covers voting rights, gun laws and Western climate policy for Stateline. He lives in San Diego, California.