In surprise moves this week, the states of Nevada and Maine rejected legislation that would have required those states to give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote — even if a majority of voters in those states voted for somebody else.
The bills would have made Nevada and Maine the 15th and 16th states to join an interstate national compact to bypass the Electoral College and elect the President by nationwide popular vote. By its terms, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact only takes effect once states with a combined 270 electoral votes (the number needed to win the presidency in Electoral College) have joined. As of today, the NPVIC is 189 votes toward its goal.
NPVIC has been heavily criticized as a backdoor attempt to undo the constitutionally prescribed method of electing the President without going through the amendment process, as outlined in Article V of the Constitution.
On Wednesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, vetoed his state’s NPVIC bill on the ground that it would diminish the state's political power. Gov. Sisolak had been expected to sign the bill, but in a letter to the speaker of the Nevada Assembly, he wrote that joining the compact "could leave a sparsely populated Western state like Nevada with a greatly diminished voice in the outcome of national electoral contests.”
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of Maine representatives killed efforts to bind Maine to the compact. The vote comes after a flurry of negative media attention in that state. In March, Portland Free Press editorialized that, despite problems with the Electoral College,
we are stuck with it, and we should be very cautious about changing it, if we change it at all. Pushing a partial fix through Democratic-controlled state legislatures on party-line votes, as Maine lawmakers are now considering with L.D. 816, could actually make things worse.
. . . [D]efanging the Electoral College should be done only through a constitutional amendment that has bipartisan support. Until that can happen, both parties should expect to play under the rules we’ve got.