26 April 2023
Since I was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2018, Nevada has been on the march to lead the nation in expanding and protecting democracy so that elections are accessible, secure and fair. We have enacted automatic voter registration, universal mail-in ballots and created vote centers, just to name a few.
These policies derive from the basic, founding democratic principle that the more voters are able to engage in democracy and when all voters and votes are treated equally, the more legitimate the government that comes together from that participation.
While the steps we have made to modernize, secure and expand our elections have been lionized as a model for the nation, there is one, national issue that we still need to act on: national popular vote.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact ensures that the person who becomes president is the one that wins the most votes nationally — continuing the fundamental democratic principle of all votes being treated equally.
That is why I have introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 6, an amendment to the Nevada Constitution to add Nevada to other states that have come together to say the president of the United States should be the person who wins the most votes across the United States.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is the next step in realizing the American principle that everyone’s voice has the same weight in our election process, and throughout American history states like Nevada have led the charge to expand democracy and live up to our nation’s founding ideals.
Fifty-one years before the 19th Amendment, Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote. Five years before the 17th Amendment, Oregon was the first state to have a direct election of a U.S. senator. Progressive era reforms included the creation of ballot initiatives, referenda
and recalls to increase voter participation.
Even the Electoral College has evolved over time. In 1789 just three states allowed people to allocate electors by vote; all others were selected by state legislature. It wasn’t until 1872, after the Civil War, that all states allowed people to vote on presidential electors.
Now is the time to continue this expansion of democracy, fulfill the fundamental promise this nation was founded on and, in the words of our founders, create a more perfect union.
This should not be a partisan issue; indeed many Republican leaders including U.S. senators,
congressmen and even a Republican National Committee chairman have backed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Instead it should be an American issue that unites us to ensure the nation’s chief executive is equally accountable to every voter.
In an era where there is so much distrust between the people and the federal government, and an era where the legitimacy of that government is at times questioned, a national popular vote can unite Americans and potentially provide us a path out of our bitter, divisive partisanship that increasingly defines our politics.
Now is the time to come together to create a more representative government that is accountable and responsive to the people. Now is the time for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Assemblyman Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas) was elected to the Assembly in November 2018.
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