The Virginia House of Delegates has passed legislation seeking to award its electoral votes to whomever the wins the popular vote.
House Bill 177 passed with a 51-46 vote in the Democrat-majority House after being handed off by the Privileges and Elections Committee last week. Should the Senate also approve, Virginia will officially become part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
“Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” a bill summary states. Further:
The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact. A state may withdraw from the compact; however, a withdrawal occurring within six months of the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President has qualified to serve the next term.
So far, 15 states, along with Washington D.C., have joined. The idea gained momentum as an answer to President Donald Trump’s electoral college victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite her approximately three million popular vote lead.
Breitbart News Senior-Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak explained why many critics feel the popular vote could disenfranchise voters outside of major population centers, especially in a close election:
Under a national popular vote system, it would be possible for Nevada — or one of the other swing states — to vote for the candidate who lost the national popular vote, only to see its Electoral College votes awarded to the winner of the national popular vote. In a close election, that could elect a president — against the will of Nevada voters — who otherwise would have lost the election under the present system.
Moreover, the “national popular vote” would, critics say, reward candidates for concentrating their time and resources on the most densely populated parts of the country. It would also create an incentive for fraud in the jurisdictions most susceptible to it. California, with its new system of “ballot harvesting,” in which unregistered activists may deliver an unlimited number of mail-in ballots, would be a prime candidate, as rival campaigns competed to stuff ballot boxes.
Democrat Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak recently made a similar case when announcing his decision to veto the legislation. “Once effective, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada in national electoral contests,” he said, “and force Nevada’s electors to side with whoever wins the nationwide popular vote, rather than the candidate Nevadans choose.”
“As Nevada’s governor, I am obligated to make such decisions according to my own conscience,” Sisolak concluded. “In cases like this, where Nevada’s interests could diverge from the interests of large states, I will always stand up for Nevada.”