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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Democrats and Good Government Advocates Call for National Popular Vote to Elect the President

State Democratic lawmakers today stood with good government advocates adding their voices to a growing coalition of people calling for an end to the Electoral College and replacing it with the direct election of the president by a national popular vote.

The coalition spoke in favor of legislation allowing Connecticut to enter into the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote (the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact”), which would make Connecticut the 11th state plus the District of Columbia to become a member.

“The Electoral College is an outdated relic of the past,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “The direct election of the president by popular vote is now critical to the essence of our democracy. I fully reject the notion that the citizens of America, in the year 2018, cannot be trusted to directly elect their president.”

“One person one vote is a basis of our democracy, and when you boil down the current Electoral College scheme, it is basically saying we can’t really trust the people to decide the election for our country’s highest office,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington). “I understand the perceived politics of the issue, but the fact remains there are multiple times in our nation’s history where the keys to the White House were handed over to someone who didn’t get the most votes.”

“When voting for a President of the United States, the will of the American people and the will of Connecticut’s citizens should be honored,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “The winner of the national popular vote should win the presidency. By joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, we can move our nation one step closer to truly honoring the will of the voters.”

“Every person in the United States has the right to an equal voice in our how country is governed, and enacting a national popular vote ensures that right is upheld,” said Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson), Co-Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. “Electing your president should be no different than electing your state senator: the person with the most votes wins. The Electoral College is antiquated and nonsensical and has changed the course of history by altering the results of elections. The Electoral College was specifically designed so that there would be a disconnection between the votes of the people and the election of our president. It is long past time for the Electoral College to be done away with, and for the voices of Connecticut to be protected with a national popular vote.”

“The National Popular Vote is an agreement among states to cast their Electoral College votes for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote,” Rep. Mike Winkler (D-Vernon) said. “The candidate with the most votes wins—it’s simply majority rule, and avoids having presidents who lost the popular vote.”

Under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, once it goes into effect the states therein choose to allocate their electoral votes to the candidate who garners the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact takes effect only when enough states sign on to guarantee that the national popular vote winner wins the presidency. This means that states with a combined total of 270 electoral votes—a majority of the Electoral College—must join the compact for it to take effect.

To date, 10 states and the District of Columbia possessing 165 electoral votes have approved the interstate compact, which represent 61 percent of the 270 electoral votes necessary to activate it. Connecticut’s neighboring states—New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island—have passed this bill.

The 11 jurisdictions which have already enacted this legislation are physically, politically and geographically diverse: they include four small jurisdictions, three medium-size states, and four large states.

“The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is truly a nonpartisan solution to make everyone’s vote for president matter—regardless of where they live, whether they live in blue, red or battleground states—and to make the winner the candidate who receives the most votes, exactly the way members to the Connecticut General Assembly and to our congressional delegation are elected,” said Melissa Kane, Westport selectwoman and Women’s March Connecticut Organizer, and Nija Phelps, Women’s March Connecticut Organizer in a joint statement “We are very thankful for the leadership being shown here today on this important issue, and we urge representatives from both sides of the aisle to get behind an initiative which will allow every voter in Connecticut’s voice to be heard.”

“From Litchfield to Old Lyme, Greenwich to Putnam, citizens across Connecticut are calling on our state legislature to make every vote cast in presidential elections matter. The enthusiasm for the National Popular Vote Compact is palpable and extends far beyond polling that shows 3 out of 4 Connecticut voters support the measure. Over the last year, thousands have signed petitions and postcards, rallied and lobbied, and participated in phonebanking and canvasses. We’re thrilled and grateful that our state’s leaders have listened and made this issue—which is so fundamental to the health and legitimacy of our democracy—a priority,” said Steven Winter, State Coordinator at National Popular Vote CT.

The state-by-state, winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not set out in the United States Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention, nor was it discussed in the Federalist Papers. The Founding Fathers did not design the system of allocating electoral votes currently used in most states. Rather, the Founding Fathers established the Electoral College without any instructions on how states should use it. The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789 (all of which abandoned it by 1800).

A study of the evolution of the Electoral College notes that, during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the delegates said they “distrusted the passions of the people,” and particularly distrusted the ability of average voters to choose a president in a national election. The result was the creation of the Electoral College, a system that at that time gave each state a number of electors based on the size of its Congressional delegation. Because there were no political parties back then, it was assumed that electors would use their best judgment to select a president. The concept was that the electors would filter the “passions of the people” and provide a check on the public in case they made a poor choice for president.

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