State legislators are once again talking about how to elect the President of the United States. And the conversation is centered on House Bill 5126, which would add Connecticut to a growing roster of states that support a National Popular Vote.
In other words, the Electoral College would be a thing of the past, and the president would be elected based on simple majority.
While the bill was before the Government Administration and Elections Committee of the General Assembly on Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman took it as an opportunity to let their support be known.
“I fully support a national popular vote for President. All Americans deserve to have their votes counted equally for the highest office in the country,” Malloy said. “Connecticut should join the nine other states and the District of Columbia in taking this important step. The candidate who wins the most votes should be President."
What is the Electoral College?
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) explains the Electoral College this way:
"The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
"The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators."
Turning the Tide Away From 'Swing States'
Connecticut has 7 electoral votes. That pails in comparison to California, which has 55, or Florida, which has 27.
“Unfortunately," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said, "too many presidential elections have focused on swing states, leaving a host of voters in states across the country feeling disenfranchised."
"The United States of America is one of the most diverse countries on earth. We should take pride in our diversity by weighing each vote equally in Presidential elections,” she added.
'The fairest and most democratic way'
The effort to enact a bill supporting the National Popular Vote is nothing new in Connecticut's General Assembly. The bill has been introduced and re-introduced several times since 2007, according to the website, National Popular Vote.
In an editorial published Feb. 14, 2014, the Hartford Courant also lent its support to the bill.
"National Popular Vote advocates were back in Connecticut recently, this time to press their case with Republican leaders, most of whom have been cool to the concept," the editorial states. "We hope some minds are changed this year. The legislature will consider the issue. Connecticut should be among the states joining the National Popular Vote compact."
The Courant editorial goes on to note that a candidate has won the presidency while losing the popular vote four times, most recently in 2000, when George W. Bush narrowly defeated Al Gore.
When enough states to represent the 270 electoral votes needed to elect the President have signed on, an inter-state compact would go into effect. If passed here, Connecticut would join 10 jurisdictions — that together represent 136 electoral votes — that have already enacted this legislation.
States that have already signed on are: California, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
"An equal vote for every American citizen, regardless of in which state they happen to live, is the fairest and most democratic way to go,” Malloy said.
Do you support moving to a National Popular Vote? Why or why not?