In a surprise move, Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday vetoed national popular vote legislation backed by his own party.
The veto is the governor’s first since entering office this year. It also stands in contrast to the growing number of Democratic-controlled states that have recently passed similar legislation.
Assembly Bill 186 would have added Nevada to the the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which requires the state’s six electoral college votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
The compact means Nevada’s electoral votes could potentially go to a presidential candidate that a majority of Nevada voters didn’t support, a point Sisolak made in a statement on his veto.
“Over the past several weeks, my office has heard from thousands of Nevadans across the state urging me to weigh the state’s role in our national elections. After thoughtful deliberation, I have decided to veto Assembly Bill 186,” Sisolak tweeted on Thursday morning. “Once effective, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could diminish the role of smaller states like Nevada in national electoral contests and force Nevada’s electors to side with whoever wins the nationwide popular vote, rather than the candidate Nevadans choose.”
Sisolak also said he doesn’t believe joining the compact is in the state’s best interest.
“I recognize that many of my fellow Nevadans may disagree on this point and I appreciate the legislature’s thoughtful consideration of this important issue,” he added. “As Nevada’s governor, I am obligated to make such decisions according to my own conscience. In cases like this, where Nevada’s interests could diverge from the interests of large states, I will always stand up for Nevada.
The legislation found no support among Nevada’s Republican caucus.
Nevada would have been the 15th state to join the compact, which only takes effect when enough states join to secure 270 out of 538 of electoral votes nationwide.
Colorado recently passed a law joining the compact. The new Colorado law is being challenged by a group who hopes to put the question on the ballot.
“Since January, the National Popular Vote bill has been enacted in three states, passed 11 legislative chambers and continues to be under consideration in Oregon. We will continue our bipartisan work in every state until the National Popular Vote proposal takes effect and every American voter is politically relevant in every presidential election,” said Patrick Rosenstiel, a senior consultant to National Popular Vote, Inc.