February 17, 2020 | From ABC 8 News
The Virginia House passed a bill to join a national compact of states pledging to award their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote in a U.S. presidential election.
HB 177 was resurrected on Friday in the House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee after it failed to report out of committee last week. On Tuesday, the House passed the measure with a 51-46 vote.
Bill sponsor Del. Mark Levine (D-45) said, “there was some misunderstanding about this compact and how it works.”
The bill received a 12-9 approval vote in committee on Friday, after Del. Paul Krizek (D-44) made a motion to reconsider the bill.
The compact would become effective if it has the backing of states that collectively have 270 electoral votes — the threshold needed for a presidential candidate to win the presidency.
If Virginia joins the compact, additional states must follow-suit in order for the compact to take effect, according to nationalpopularvote.com, the group tracking the compact’s status.
“If the compact becomes valid, if 270 electoral votes worth of states decide to sign on to the compact, Virginia can’t back out if they suddenly decide they don’t like the results of an election,” 8News political analyst Rich Meagher said. “So in 2016, if they had chosen Clinton and the vote went to Trump, they can’t just say, ‘well we didn’t like that candidate and we would rather go with what Virginia decided.’”
Del. Mark Levine (D-45) told 8News last week that the bill would be debated by the House of Delegates on Monday, “and we will vote on it on Tuesday.”
Meagher said, “and if it gets passed by the House, it will at least go over to the Senate after the crossover — where House bills go to the Senate — so the Senate will get another shot at it. They may immediately vote it down if they’re not interested in it. But, if enough happens and enough attention is drawn to this bill on the House side, and the House does pass it, then the Senate might take a second look.”
Last week, a Senate version of the bill was struck from the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.
“Virginia currently assigns its electors to reflect the opinions of voters in the Commonwealth, and this bill might as well have an amendment stating that our electors will be chosen by the State of California,” Del. Israel O’Quinn, (R-Bristol), said in a statement following the vote.
“Virginians should choose who gets Virginia’s 13 electoral votes — not a handful of large states. The Electoral College was designed to preserve the voice of smaller states. Virginians should speak for Virginians,” O’Quinn continued.