The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill last week that would allocate the commonwealth’s electoral college votes to the candidate who received the national popular vote. The bill would join Virginia into the National Popular Vote Compact, which ensures the presidential candidate with the most votes nationally is elected once states comprising 270 out of 538 electoral votes sign onto the pact. The House passed the bill by a vote of 51-46.
Passage of House Bill 177, introduced by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, comes less than two weeks after the bill was originally defeated in the Privileges and Elections committee by a vote of 10-12. After being reconsidered in the same committee last week, the bill reported out on a 12-9 vote. The bill incorporates HB 199, introduced by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News.
“The people of the United States should choose the president of the United States, no matter where they live in each individual state,” Levine said when questioned during the committee hearing.
Since the campaign began in 2006, 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed the National Popular Vote bill for a total of 196 electoral votes. If the bill passes the state Senate, Virginia’s 13 electoral votes would bring that total to 209. That leaves 61 electoral votes needed for the compact to take effect. At least one chamber in eight additional states, with a combined 75 more electoral votes, has passed the bill.
A candidate winning the electoral votes and the presidential race despite losing the national popular vote has occurred five times in history: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.