National popular vote proposal fails in Va. Senate committee

Published: Feb. 25, 2020 at 8:25 PM EST
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A state Senate committee on Tuesday voted down legislation to add Virginia to a coalition of states trying to do away with the Electoral College, delaying an ambitious and hotly debated proposal dealing with how the United States will elect future presidents.

The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted 14-1 to push the bill to the 2021 session, ensuring Virginia won’t join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact before this fall’s presidential election.

Some legislators on the Democratic-led committee signaled they were open to the idea, but said the legislature needed more time to fully consider it.

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, said the Electoral College was conceived at a time when fewer than 50,000 people were voting, adding that he believes the system had “racist origins” meant to enhance the political power of slave-holding Southern states.

“It is a system which no longer should have any bearing on us,” Surovell said before the vote to delay the bill. “But I understand that undoing the Constitution is really hard.”

Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, was the only member of the committee to vote to keep the proposal alive for the current session.


The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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