Undercutting the Electors

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which seeks to effectively void the power of presidential electors, has been adopted by 11 states which control 165 electoral votes. Nevada is not among those states.

States that join the compact pledge their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. It is seen as a way of avoiding the perils of the presidential elector system without having to amend the U.S. Constitution to get rid of electors. The compact would supposedly take effect when states with 270 electoral votes—the number needed to appoint a president—join it.

Nevada Assemblymember Nelson Araujo of Clark County introduced Assembly Bill 274, providing that electors for “the candidates for president and vice president who win the national popular vote would become the official presidential electors for Nevada.” The measure received a hearing but was not acted upon by the April 14 deadline for passage through its first committee, so it automatically died.

It is uncertain whether the states control the authority they are pledging in the compact—the power to cast the electoral votes. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether states can direct electors how to vote, but in a presidential elector case that decided a different issue, Justice Robert Jackson did write, “No one faithful to our history can deny that the plan originally contemplated what is implicit in [the Constitution’s] text, that electors would be free agents, to exercise an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the men best qualified for the nation’s highest offices.”

At any rate, whatever happens to the compact in the next two years, Nevada will not be a part of it.