Jon Greenberg

Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn., and Mayor Toni Harp spoke Saturday in favor of replacing the Electoral College with the national popular vote for future presidential elections at a rally on the Green organized by National Popular Vote Compact Connecticut, a popular vote advocacy group.

The event, which about 100 people attended, featured speeches by organizers, activists and politicians from all levels of government. Speakers railed against the Electoral College, calling it undemocratic, and cited the 2016 presidential election as evidence of the need for change. In his address, Blumenthal said he was heartened by the enthusiasm of those present but stressed the importance of turning this enthusiasm into action.

“As a citizen of Connecticut, I’m going to do what I think every one of us should do,” Blumenthal said. “I’m calling my state representative.”

Blumenthal noted that Connecticut is one of only four states in the Northeast that has not passed legislation committing the state to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement between 10 states and the District of Columbia in which member states pledge to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. If adopted by enough states such that the total number of electoral votes bound by the compact numbered 270 or more, the plan would effectively institute a national popular vote without the need for a constitutional amendment.

Together, the current members of the compact have 165 electoral votes, or 61 percent of the votes necessary to successfully implement the plan. New York and California, two of the three states with the most electors, have joined the NPVIC.

In the Connecticut General Assembly, the Government Administration and Elections Committee is considering legislation to join the compact. Lawmaker’s attitudes toward the proposal are split largely along partisan lines, with Democrats supporting the measure and Republicans opposing it. In the Senate, the Democrats and Republicans are tied, while in the House the Democrats have a 79–72 majority.

In her address, Harp noted that under the current system, votes in swing states have more bearing on the outcome of the election than votes in red and blue states. Adopting the popular vote would restore equality between voters, she said.

“With one person, one vote, there would be no more swing states,” Harp said. “In this way, the value of each individual vote, yours and mine, would be restored.”

Although the NPVIC has been raised in the state legislature a number of times over the past few years, popular vote advocates have committed themselves to the issue with new vigor after the 2016 presidential election, in which Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 lost the Electoral College despite her nearly 3-million-vote advantage in the popular vote.

Saturday’s rally was organized by National Popular Vote Compact CT, a grass-roots group that sprung up after the election to push for Connecticut to join the NPVIC. Since November, the group has held a number of forums as well as a rally and press conference, according to Steven Winter, one of the group’s lead organizers.

Although Connecticut held just seven electoral votes in the 2016 election, Winter said he thinks decisive action in the Nutmeg State could sway other states on the cusp of signing on to the compact.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind this proposal, and we feel like it’s really important for Connecticut to send a message to the nation that twice in 16 years is way too many times for the national popular vote loser to become the president,” Winter said. “States like Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado — these are states that have a reputation for good government … and I think if they saw Connecticut setting an example, they would be interested in joining in as well.”

Chester resident and longtime popular vote advocate Marta Daniels came to the Green Saturday as a representative of the Chester Democratic Town Committee, one of the rally’s co-sponsors. Over the past few months, she said, Chester Democrats have made fact sheets and distributed thousands of flyers urging residents to support the push for the popular vote.

For Daniels, the NPVIC represents a way to fight back against gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression.

“The national popular vote is an antidote to the repression,” she said. “It’s an antidote to authoritarianism. And we hope that our state will step up because it’s a completely legal and constitutional action that they’re going to take if they pass the NPV compact.”

Sharon Farmer, a Burlington, Connecticut resident who made signs for the event, said she supported the compact because she sees the Electoral College as obsolete. She explained that the original purpose of the Electoral College system was to vet candidates who are either unqualified or disloyal to the country. But Trump, who Farmer said she believes is unqualified and has colluded with the Russian government, had just been elected via the system. She said this proves that the college no longer serves its original purpose.

In November, Donald Trump became the fourth president to win the Electoral College while losing the national popular vote, and the second in the past five presidential elections.

  • whalerfan

    Let me pose the question. What happens if a Republican wins the popular vote and loses the Electoral College? What will you do then? This is only because a Democrat lost. Be careful what you wish for.

    • jschm

      exactly. No 1 or 2 states should elect a President. This is an end run around the Constitution and robs states not just people of their say in the election. Not all states are equal and this is only proposed because the highest population states which happen to be Democrat controlled want all the power and smaller states can suffer.We are the United STATES of America.

      • toto

        Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . .

        In 2000, 537 popular votes in Florida determined that the candidate who had 537,179 less national popular votes would win.

        Less than 80,000 votes in 3 states determined the 2016 election, where there was a lead of over 2,8oo,ooo popular votes nationwide.

        Since World War II, a shift of a few thousand votes in 1, 2, or 3 states would have elected a 2nd-place candidate in 6 of the 18 presidential elections

      • toto

        In 2016, New York state and California Democrats together cast 9.7% of the total national popular vote.

        California & New York state account for 16.7% of the voting-eligible population

        Alone, they could not determine the presidency.

        In total New York state and California cast 16% of the total national popular vote

        In total, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania cast 18% of the total national popular vote.
        Trump won those states.

        The vote margin in California and New York wouldn’t have put Clinton over the top in the popular vote total without the additional 60 million votes she received in other states.

        In 2004, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

        New York state and California together cast 15.7% of the national popular vote in 2012.
        About 62% Democratic in CA, and 64% in NY.

        New York and California have 15.6% of Electoral College votes. Now that proportion is all reliably Democratic.

        Under a popular-vote system CA and NY would have less influence than under the current system because their popular votes would be split among candidates.

      • toto

        Now, a presidential candidate could lose despite winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 states.

        With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation’s votes!

        But the political reality is that the 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included 7 states have voted Republican(Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia) and 4 states have voted Democratic (California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

        In 2004, among the 11 most populous states, in the seven non-battleground states, % of winning party, and margin of “wasted” popular votes, from among the total 122 Million votes cast nationally:
        * Texas (62% Republican), 1,691,267
        * New York (59% Democratic), 1,192,436
        * Georgia (58% Republican), 544,634
        * North Carolina (56% Republican), 426,778
        * California (55% Democratic), 1,023,560
        * Illinois (55% Democratic), 513,342
        * New Jersey (53% Democratic), 211,826

        To put these numbers in perspective,
        Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) generated a margin of 455,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes).
        Utah (5 electoral votes) generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004.
        8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

      • toto

        Because of state-by-state winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution. . .

        Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2015 was correct when he said
        “The nation as a whole is not going to elect the next president,”
        “The presidential election will not be decided by all states, but rather just 12 of them.

        Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

        With the end of the primaries, without the National Popular Vote bill in effect, the political relevance of 70% of all Americans was finished for the presidential election.

        In the 2016 general election campaign

        Over half (57%) of the campaign events were held in just 4 states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio).

        Virtually all (94%) of the campaign events were in just 12 states (containing only 30% of the country’s population).

    • toto

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

      In Gallup polls since they started asking in 1944 until this election, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states) (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

      Support for a national popular vote for President has been strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed. In the 41 red, blue, and purple states surveyed, overall support has been in the 67-81% range – in rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

      Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that no matter where they live, even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it is wrong that the candidate with the most popular votes can lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

      The National Popular Vote bill in 2017 passed the New Mexico Senate.
      It was approved in 2016 by a unanimous bipartisan House committee vote in both Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Missouri (10).
      Since 2006, the bill has passed 35 state legislative chambers in 23 rural, small, medium, large, Democratic, Republican and purple states with 261 electoral votes, including one house in Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Maine (4), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), and Oklahoma (7), and both houses in Colorado (9) and New Mexico (5).

    • toto

      A survey of Connecticut voters in 2009 showed 74% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states

      Support by political affiliation, was 80% among Democrats, 67% among Republicans, and 71% among others.

      By age, support was 82% among 18-29 year olds, 69% among 30-45 year olds, 75% among 46-65 year olds, and 72% for those older than 65.

      NationalPopularVote

    • toto

      The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

      • jschm

        and like Clinton did candidates will only have to win the most populace states which happen to be Democrats controlled.Clintons 4 million votes in CA would overwhelming many of the other states.

        • toto

          California Democratic votes in 2016 were 6.4% of the total national popular vote.

          The vote difference in California wouldn’t have put Clinton over the top in the popular vote total without the additional 61.5 million votes she received in other states.

          California cast 10.3% of the total national popular vote.
          31.9% Trump, 62.3% Clinton

          In 2012, California cast 10.2% of the national popular vote.
          About 62% Democratic

          California has 10.2% of Electoral College votes.

          8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

          With the National Popular Vote bill in effect, all votes for all candidates in California will matter.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Sen. Blumenthal’s proposal is born in historical ignorance.

    How to choose national laws & leaders was no small part of The Great Compromise of 1787. Small states wanted to vote by state, large states wanted to vote by population, and the compromise was voting for national laws & leaders by congressional representation, hence the electoral college. There have been perhaps a hundred efforts [depending on how you count them] to change that rule to voting by population, No sale.

    Only the stupid would hope the small states would go along with voting for prez by population, and Blumenthal isn’t stupid. He is just lying to you. You are smart enough to see that if you want to.

    • toto

      Trump, November 13, 2016, on “60 Minutes”
      “ I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play.”

      In 2012, the night Romney lost, Trump tweeted.
      “The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. . . . The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

      Recent and past presidential candidates who supported direct election of the President in the form of a constitutional amendment, before the National Popular Vote bill was introduced: George H.W. Bush (R-TX-1969), Jimmy Carter (D-GA-1977), Hillary Clinton (D-NY-2001), Bob Dole (R-KS-1969), Michael Dukakis (D-MA), Gerald Ford (R-MI-1969), and Richard Nixon (R-CA-1969).

      Recent and past presidential candidates with a public record of support, before November 2016, for the National Popular Vote bill that would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes and the presidency to the candidate with the most national popular votes: Congressmen John Anderson (R, I –ILL), and Bob Barr (Libertarian- GA), Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN), Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee (R-I-D, -RI), Governor and former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean (D–VT), U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), Senator and Vice President Al Gore (D-TN), Ralph Nader, Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Jill Stein (Green), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN).

      Newt Gingrich summarized his support for the National Popular Vote bill by saying: “No one should become president of the United States without speaking to the needs and hopes of Americans in all 50 states. … America would be better served with a presidential election process that treated citizens across the country equally. The National Popular Vote bill accomplishes this in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with our fundamental democratic principles.”

    • toto

      Support for a national popular vote has been strong in every smallest state surveyed in polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group

      Among the 13 lowest population states, the National Popular Vote bill has passed in 9 state legislative chambers, and been enacted by 4 jurisdictions.

      Now political clout comes from being among the handful of battleground states. 70-80% of states and voters are ignored by presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits. Their states’ votes were conceded months before by the minority parties in the states, taken for granted by the dominant party in the states, and ignored by all parties in presidential campaigns.

      State winner-take-all laws negate any simplistic mathematical equations about the relative power of states based on their number of residents per electoral vote. Small state math means absolutely nothing to presidential campaign polling, organizing, ad spending, and visits, or to presidents once in office.

      In the 25 smallest states in 2008, the Democratic and Republican popular vote was almost tied (9.9 million versus 9.8 million), as was the electoral vote (57 versus 58).

      In 2012, 24 of the nation’s 27 smallest states received no attention at all from presidential campaigns after the conventions. They were ignored despite their supposed numerical advantage in the Electoral College. In fact, the 8.6 million eligible voters in Ohio received more campaign ads and campaign visits from the major party campaigns than the 42 million eligible voters in those 27 smallest states combined.

      The 12 smallest states are totally ignored in presidential elections. These states are not ignored because they are small, but because they are not closely divided “battleground” states.

      Now with state-by-state winner-take-all laws (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), presidential elections ignore 12 of the 13 lowest population states (3-4 electoral votes), that are non-competitive in presidential elections. 6 regularly vote Republican (AK, ID, MT, WY, ND, and SD), and 6 regularly vote Democratic (RI, DE, HI, VT, ME, and DC) in presidential elections.

      Similarly, the 25 smallest states have been almost equally noncompetitive. They voted Republican or Democratic 12-13 in 2008 and 2012.

      Voters in states, of all sizes, that are reliably red or blue don’t matter. Candidates ignore those states and the issues they care about most.

    • toto

      Unable to agree on any particular method for selecting presidential electors, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method exclusively to the states in Article II, Section 1
      “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….”
      The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

      Neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, universal suffrage, and the 48 state-by-state winner-take-all method) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation’s first presidential election.

      In 1789, in the nation’s first election, a majority of the states appointed their presidential electors by appointment by the legislature or by the governor and his cabinet, the people had no vote for President in most states, and in states where there was a popular vote, only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote, and only three states used the state-by-state winner-take-all method to award electoral votes.

      The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes became dominant only in the 1830s, when most of the Founders had been dead for decades, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state.

      The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

      States have the responsibility and constitutional power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond. Now, 38 states, like Connecticut, of all sizes, and their voters, because they vote predictably, are politically irrelevant in presidential elections.

      • ShadrachSmith

        1st, thank you for all the effort you put into that answer. Usually they just leave me hanging in the tree.

        We vote for national leaders and laws by congressional representation. Connecticut gets seven electoral votes. Connecticut can award those votes by astral projection if they wish, but Connecticut gets five votes in the house, two in the senate hence seven electoral votes for prez.

        That’s the part Connecticut can’t change without amending the constitution. I see states as an expression of the principle of subsidiarity. And I see the principle of subsidiarity.as an indispensable component of our ancient and venerable republic: you don’t. That’s Ok. The 1st amendment says that’s OK.

        • toto

          Connecticut would continue to cast 7 electoral votes.

          All of the presidential electors from the enacting states will be supporters of the presidential candidate receiving the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC)—thereby guaranteeing that candidate with an Electoral College majority.

  • jschm

    No. You will have NY, CA and the other Democrats controlled large states electing every President. It is the Democrats that want it to rule the country. Candidate will only have to campaign in the most populace states as Clinton did. We are the United States not one state. Never should this become law to work around the Constitution.

    • toto

      Now, a presidential candidate could lose despite winning 78%+ of the popular vote and 39 states.

      With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), it could only take winning a bare plurality of popular votes in only the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population of the United States, for a candidate to win the Presidency with less than 22% of the nation’s votes!

      But the political reality is that the 11 largest states, with a majority of the U.S. population and electoral votes, rarely agree on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states have included 7 states have voted Republican(Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia) and 4 states have voted Democratic (California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

  • 100wattlightbulb

    We are a Republic, not a democracy. Hillary lost because she’s corrupt.

  • Nancy Morris

    It’s odd that the people pushing this initiative forget that immediately before the Bush-Gore election most knowledgeable people thought that Bush had the higher chance to end up winning the popular vote but lose to Gore in the Electoral College.

    This initiative has enormous potential to produce results entirely contrary to what it’s proponents desire.