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April 20, 2014

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State’s six electors make it official: Obama wins Nevada

Nevada’s election is finally, officially over. And — surprise! — President Barack Obama won the state.

At the Capitol, the state’s six presidential electors unanimously cast their votes for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday afternoon.

Obama beat Republican nominee Mitt Romney 531,373 to 463,567 in the Nov. 6 general election.

But the nation’s president is not, of course, selected by the results of the popular vote. Instead the office is decided by the 538 members of the Electoral College. Secretary of State Ross Miller explained it is a system forged by the country’s Founding Fathers as a compromise between giving the people the direct right to select the president and allowing them to pick indirectly.

Fair or not, this system has been fantastic for swing state Nevada, or at least political junkies here. It allows presidential candidates to ignore voters in solidly Democratic or Republican states, such as New York and Texas, but gives toss-up states such as Nevada, Ohio and Florida a prominent role every four years.

Efforts to switch to a national popular vote gained steam after the 2000 election, when Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but Republican George W. Bush won the Electoral College.

But Miller said Nevadans should be wary of changing the current setup.

“There’s historical precedent for the Electoral College,” Miller said. “Also selfishly, we have a lot to lose.”

He said candidates for president “talk about issues important to Nevada.”

Plus, he joked, what about all that spending on television ads Nevadans got bombarded with? “TV stations’ holiday parties would plummet significantly,” he said.

But seriously, folks. Miller said “administering a true national election, if there ever was a recount, would be difficult, if not impossible.”

Nevada law requires the electors, chosen by the victorious candidate’s state party, to vote “only for the nominees for president and vice president of the party ... that prevailed in this state in the preceding general election.”

But the law doesn’t stipulate any penalty for breaking that law. (Miller said it’s never been an issue.)

Randy Soltero, an elector and labor representative, said he got one letter from a woman in Pennsylvania, pleading with him to pick Mitt Romney at Monday’s vote. She argued the country needed a businessman. “It was very well-written,” he said. “It was very respectful.”

But ultimately, it didn’t change his mind.

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