Delaware Public Media

Nat'l popular vote legislation passes Delaware Senate

Mar 7, 2019

Legislation that would give Delaware’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote easily passed the state Senate Thursday.


The bill adding the First State to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact garnered 14 yes votes, with 7 Republicans voting no.

State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark)  is sponsoring the bill. State Sen. Anthony Delcollo (R-Elsmere) is co-sponsoring it.

Delcollo said that winner-take-all system is a distortion of what the founders envisioned. The Republican state senator said states have the right to put their electoral votes where they want.

“Precisely because of the distortion of our federal policy, I feel motivated to stand up for Delaware because it shouldn’t be the lion’s share, the vast lion share, of messaging and inquiries about what people think about in advance of a general election go solely to swing states,” he said.

Delaware, like most states, currently gives its Electoral College votes to the popular vote winner in the state. And State Sen. Colin Bonini  (R-Dover South) said he likes it that way. He questions whether lawmakers are prepared for the possibility a person the majority of Delawareans did not vote for wins the national popular vote.

“Are you guys willing to go to your constituents and lay out that scenario and say ‘The person who lost the election in Delaware is getting our votes,'” he said.

Republican State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown) said Delaware has more influence through the Electoral College than the national popular vote. And he believes the compact will give urban centers more attention than rural areas.

But supporters of the legislation say the candidate who wins the national popular vote should become president. They argue the current winner-take-all system encourages candidates to focus on just a handful of battleground states.

The legislation now heads to the Delaware House. It’s primary sponsor there, Republican State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-Clayton), has dropped his name from the bill, citing opposition from constituents in his district.