Presidential elector change proposed

A bill drafting request (BDR) has been submitted at the Nevada Legislature providing for the state to join an interstate compact that would circumvent the winner-take-all provisions of some state laws on presidential electors to try to prevent the appointment of more presidents the public rejected.

The BDR, requested by Assemblymember Tyrone Thompson of Clark County, reads, “Enacts the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.” No more detail is provided, but that is the same summary given at the 2017 legislature for Assembly Bill 274, which was given one hearing and then allowed to die. The language of Thompson’s bill will become available when he introduces it during 2019 the legislative session, which convenes Feb. 4.

The U.S. Constitution provides for presidents to be appointed by “electors” after the presidential election. Those electors meet in their own states to cast their votes, and legislatures are given latitude in how they are chosen and conduct their business. The winner-take-all feature is not in the Constitution or federal law and has led to five instances of appointed, unelected presidents. The Thompson measure, if it follows the language of AB 274, provides for Nevada to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) under which states pledge their electors to vote for the candidate who wins the election nationwide. Ten states and D.C. have joined NPVIC, and it is intended to take effect when enough states sign on to make a majority of electoral votes. However, it has never been litigated whether states can instruct their electors, though some states—including Nevada—have laws binding them to vote in compliance with the political parties that appoint them.