- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2020

Virginia may still join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, but it probably won’t happen before the November election.

The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted 14-1 Tuesday to push H.B. 177 to the 2021 legislative session, giving state lawmakers more time to consider the bill requiring Virginia’s Electoral College electors to cast their ballots for the winner of the national popular vote, not the state vote.

That doesn’t mean the bill is dead. Ray Haynes, NPV national spokesman, said the Senate committee also agreed to hold a hearing on the legislation after the Nov. 3 election.

“I think this was exactly the right way to handle this,” said Mr. Haynes, a former California GOP state legislator. “We got a commitment to have a hearing. That tells me it wasn’t a cute move to kill the bill. They really want to consider the bill.”

Even so, Save Our States, an advocacy group fighting the National Popular Vote push, cheered the committee’s decision and thanked Virginians who contacted their legislators to oppose the measure, saying, “Your voices were heard!”

If approved, Virginia would become the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, to enter the compact, which takes effect after accumulating states with a combined 270 electoral votes. So far the pact has amassed 196 electoral votes, and Virginia would add 13.

The House passed the legislation Feb. 11, but the Senate was quickly running up against the legislature’s March 7 adjournment.

“They’re at the end of their session days at the end of next week,” Mr. Haynes said. “This is their crunch time. And with a bill like this, you really can’t consider in a crunch time and give it the consideration that’s appropriate because of its import.”

The NPV bills itself as a bipartisan movement aimed at ensuring that every vote counts, but so far the legislation has only passed in blue states. Democrats took over both houses of the Virginia state legislature in November.

In the past 20 years, two Republican presidential candidates have won the White House despite losing the popular vote — Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000 — prompting a backlash on the left against the Electoral College.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, has called for abolishing the Electoral College, while supporters argue that the uniquely American institution protects small states and rural communities from being dominated by large urban areas.

Four states — Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico and Washington — approved bills to enter the NPV compact in the 2019 legislative session, while Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolek, a Democrat, vetoed NPV legislation, saying it would dilute the small state’s influence in presidential races.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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