Delaware is a step closer to joining a multi-state compact that wants to abandon the Electoral College and elect the United States president by popular vote.
By a vote of 14 to 7, the Senate approved the National Popular Vote bill (SB 22). The legislation now moves to the House where it is expected to pass as early as Thursday. Twenty-two House Democrats are either sponsors or co-sponsors of the bill, which requires 21 votes for approval.
Should SB22 be approved by the House and signed into law by Governor Carney, Delaware would become a member of a compact of states pledging their electoral votes to the presidential candidate wins the majority of the national popular vote. The compact would become active when its members’ collective electoral votes total or exceed 270 — the minimum number needed to secure a presidential victory.
The measure had unanimous Democrat support in the chamber along with the yes votes of two New Castle Country Republicans, Catherine Cloutier and Anthony Delcollo.
Colorado will soon become the 12th state to join the compact, boosting its electoral vote total to 181.
The surge of Democrat support for the effort stems from frustration around the 2000 election of George W. Bush and the 2016 victory by Donald J. Trump – both presidents elected despite coming second in the popular vote.
Opponents including many Republicans say the measure will diminish Delaware’s voice in national elections, pointing out that our three electoral votes actually give the state a disproportionate say in the electoral college compared to our representation in the popular vote. In their view, presidential candidates will have even less reason or incentive to campaign in the First State, opting instead to focus on major US population centers.
Additionally, constitutional questions have been raised and the legislation will likely be tested in the courts.
One leading Delaware Republican, former state senator Greg Lavelle, worries the legislation is short-sighted and will adversely impact the state’s influence.
“This isn’t necessary, and it will hurt Delaware,” said Lavelle. “Delawareans should direct our electoral votes, not California, Texas and other big states. It is a loss of state pride and giving away our sovereignty will be unfortunate for Delaware should this pass.”
No one expects the compact to reach 270 electoral votes prior to 2020’s presidential election; supporters are aiming to reach that threshold by 2024 or 2028. However, House member told TSD that the “number of states interested are dwindling.”