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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Senate Democrats Lead Final Passage of Bill to Join National Popular Vote Compact

Democrats in the State Senate today fought for democracy and to make sure every vote counts. In a 21-14 vote, the Senate Democrats stood with 70 percent of Connecticut residents who agree the president should be elected by the national popular vote and led final passage of a bill that allows Connecticut to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

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“The Electoral College is an outdated relic of the past,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven).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 as they do for every other office.”

“The winner of the national popular vote should win the presidency,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk).  “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 disconnect between the votes of the people and the election of our president. It is long past time for the voices of Connecticut and all of our nation’s voters to be protected with a national popular vote.”

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 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 and explicitly left allocation of those electoral votes to state legislators in Article II of the U.S. Constitution 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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