RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Legislation seeking to guarantee the presidency to candidates who earn the popular vote in national elections has passed the Virginia House.
HB 177 introduced by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, was defeated Friday in the Privileges and Elections committee before it was reconsidered with a substitute and passed with a vote 12-9 on February 7. The House passed it with a vote of 51-46 on Tuesday, February 11.
"We are grateful to our sponsors in the Virginia General Assembly, and to citizens across the state who are making it clear that they prefer a national popular vote for president," said John Koza, Chairman of National Popular Vote. "Regardless of party, the people of Virginia prefer a system where every voter, in every state, is politically relevant in every presidential election. National Popular Vote delivers on that promise."
Under the Electoral College, each state is granted a number of electoral votes based on their representation in the U.S. House and Senate. A majority of states award electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most votes in their respective states.
The candidate receiving at least 270 electoral votes wins the election.
After Donald Trump won the 2016 election despite losing the popular vote, numerous states signed the NPVC. The NPVC would ensure the candidate who wins the popular vote becomes president when states possessing 270 electoral votes sign onto the pact and give their electoral votes to the candidate through presidential electors.
The compact has been adopted by 15 states and the District of Columbia, which equal 196 electoral votes, according to National Popular Vote, a nonprofit that advocates for the compact.
The pact will go into effect once states with at least 74 more electoral votes enact it. At least one chamber in eight additional states with 75 more electoral votes have passed the bill.
"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, said Del. Israel O’Quinn, (R-Bristol). "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."
House Republicans said Democrats put states like California, New York, and Texas in charge of who gets Virginia's 13 Electoral votes.
The Senate version was withdrawn from consideration, but the House version will go to the Senate for consideration. If passed by the Senate, it would go to Governor Ralph Northam for final signature into law.