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Governor Throws Support Behind National Popular Vote

by Hugh McQuaid | Feb 24, 2014 5:52pm
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election Policy

Hugh McQuaid File Photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy threw his support Monday behind a proposal to join other states in casting Connecticut’s Electoral College votes in favor of the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally.

The National Popular Vote Compact has become a perennial issue in the Connecticut legislature but has yet to be passed into law. Under the bill, the state would join nine others and the District of Columbia in an agreement that would become effective only if enough states joined so that 270 electoral votes, or enough votes to win the election, went to the winner of the popular vote.

Malloy announced his support for the concept in a press release Monday as the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee was hearing public testimony on this year’s National Popular Vote bill.

“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. “... The candidate who wins the most votes should be President. 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.”

In addition to Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Senate President Donald Williams released a statement Monday supporting the bill.

“We should choose our president in the way we chose every other elected officeholder - by the popular vote,” he said. “The person that receives the most votes should be elected.  Determining our national elections with the popular vote can ensure that the candidates for president are talking to all Americans rather than just the people in a small number of battleground states.”

The legislation has passed out of the Government Administration and Election Committee and in 2009 passed the House of Representatives, but was never raised by the Senate that year. At the time, Rep. Brendan Sharkey, who is now the House Speaker, voted for the proposal. More recently, Sharkey has been undecided on the bill but said last year he would allow it to be raised in the House if his caucus supports it.

Proponents contend the compact will motivate presidential candidates to pay political attention to a greater number of states. Rep. Ed Jutila, the Government Administration and Election Committee’s co-chairman, said both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent during the 2012 presidential election, visited between eight and 10 states and ignored the rest.

However, opponents say small states like Connecticut benefit under the current Electoral College system. Rep. David Labriola, R-Oxford, said the idea of electing the person who gets the most votes has a “kindergarten appeal,” but it ignores that the country has a republic style of government rather than a straight democracy.

“We’re a republic. We’re a nation of states, and particularly for a small state like Connecticut, shouldn’t we be that much more opposed to this idea?” he said.

Tara Ross, a Texas lawyer and the author of a book supporting the existing Electoral College system, agreed. She said without the current system, candidates would spend all their time appealing to big cities and population centers.

“I think the Electoral College… it sets up a certain set of incentives that force presidential candidates or political parties to reach out to a variety of people,” she said. “Versus just go to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and hang out there and gather up as many votes as you can.”

The issue has received attention in recent years after the 2000 presidential election, which saw the Bush-Cheney campaign win the White House with a 271-266 electoral vote advantage despite polling 540,520 fewer popular votes than Gore-Lieberman.

In written testimony, Alison Rivard, a vice president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, said results like the 2000 election cause voters to question the legitimacy of our elections system.

“With a shift to the NPV Compact, voters across the country, including Connecticut, would have a greater sense that their votes do indeed count in a meaningful way and would have an incentive to pay attention, vote and participate in the electoral process,” she wrote. “The league believes that it is more important than ever that we preserve the democratic ideal of making each vote count.”

In past years the bill has been raised and has passed out of the General Administration and Elections Committee. The last time it was raised by the House was in 2009.

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(15) Comments

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | February 24, 2014  6:28pm

DrHunterSThompson

one toke, one vote.  twist one up! the doctor agrees with the Guv!

HST

posted by: Matt from CT | February 24, 2014  7:34pm

If you combined this with another reform, such as instant run-off, you might have a viable democratic idea.  Instant run-off plus apportioning each state’s electoral votes by Congressional District (plus winner takes all for the two electoral votes associated with the Senate seats) would be even better—for example making Connecticut’s 2nd District and perhaps one or two around Waterbury in play for Presidential elections and drawing some attention from Republicans.

Or even a whole scale scrapping of the current system and going with a Parlimentary, proportional representation would represent a more democratic idea.

This isn’t a democratic idea.

This is a Democratic idea.

Democratic areas are much more concentrated in their partisan support—there are 28 Congressional Districts nationwide with a 20% Republican advantage, vs. 52 or so districts where Democrats enjoy a 20% advantage.  The deep but narrow support of urban Democrats hurt them in the Electoral College, while Republicans take advantage of shallower but broader support.

It’s a variation of the old urban/rural battles, and this one is “popular vote” to run up huge majorities in urban areas to marginalize the rural and suburban areas.

And that’s not good in a democracy in which the Senate and Electoral College are the only two political checks we have against mob rule by the majority.

posted by: mvymvy | February 24, 2014  9:55pm

A survey of Connecticut voters 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. Voters were asked:

“How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?”

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

By gender, support was 81% among women and 66% among men.

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

posted by: CitizenCT | February 25, 2014  7:17am

Very bad idea for a small state.  Campaigns will spend all their time in high population states like Texas and CA.  CT will never be relevant in the popular vote model.  At least we have a chance to be relevant with the electoral college.

posted by: art vandelay | February 25, 2014  9:59am

art vandelay

Abolishing the current Electoral System would give Democrats a HUGE advantage.  Large cities like New York & LA including ultra left wing states like California, & New York would decide our elections.  It would be another nail in the coffin of the two party system.  It would be a huge step in transforming this nation into the socialist state the Democrats can’t wait to control.

posted by: mvymvy | February 25, 2014  1:06pm

With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since 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 a mere 23% of the nation’s votes!

But the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely agree on any political question.  In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, 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) alone 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) alone 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).

posted by: mvymvy | February 25, 2014  1:08pm

With National Popular Vote, every voter would be equal. Candidates would reallocate their time, the money they raise, and their ad buys to no longer ignore 80% of the states and voters.

With National Popular Vote, big cities would not get all of candidates’ attention, much less control the outcome. 

16% of Americans live in rural areas.

The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities (going as far down as Arlington, TX) is only 15% of the population of the United States. 
 
Suburbs and exurbs often vote Republican.

If big cities controlled the outcome of elections, the governors and U.S. Senators would be Democratic in virtually every state with a significant city.
 
A nationwide presidential campaign, with every voter equal, would be run the way presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, under the state-by-state winner-take-all methods. The big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami do not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida.
     
The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate knows. When and where every voter is equal, a campaign must be run everywhere.

With National Popular Vote, when every voter is equal, everywhere, it makes sense for presidential candidates to try and elevate their votes where they are and aren’t so well liked. But, under the state-by-state winner-take-all laws, it makes no sense for a Democrat to try and do that in Vermont or Wyoming, or for a Republican to try it in Wyoming or Vermont.
     
Even in California state-wide elections, candidates for governor or U.S. Senate don’t campaign just in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and those places don’t control the outcome (otherwise California wouldn’t have recently had Republican governors Reagan, Dukemejian, Wilson, and Schwarzenegger).  A vote in rural Alpine county is just an important as a vote in Los Angeles.  If Los Angeles cannot control statewide elections in California, it can hardly control a nationwide election.
     
In fact, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland together cannot control a statewide election in California.

Similarly, Republicans dominate Texas politics without carrying big cities such as Dallas and Houston.

There are numerous other examples of Republicans who won races for governor and U.S. Senator in other states that have big cities (e.g., New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts) without ever carrying the big cities of their respective states.

posted by: mvymvy | February 25, 2014  1:10pm

In 1969, The U.S. House of Representatives voted for a national popular vote by a 338–70 margin.  It was endorsed by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and various members of Congress who later ran for Vice President and President such as then-Congressman George H.W. Bush, and then-Senator Bob Dole.

On June 7, 2011, the Republican-controlled New York Senate passed the National Popular Vote bill by a 47–13 margin, with Republicans favoring the bill by 21–11. Republicans endorsed by the Conservative Party favored the bill 17–7.

In May 2011, Jason Cabel Roe, a lifelong conservative activist and professional political consultant wrote in National Popular Vote is Good for Republicans: “I strongly support National Popular Vote.  It is good for Republicans, it is good for conservatives . . . , and it is good for America.  National Popular Vote is not a grand conspiracy hatched by the Left to manipulate the election outcome. 
It is a bipartisan effort of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to allow every state – and every voter – to have a say in the selection of our President, and not just the 15 Battle Ground States [that then existed in 2011].
 
National Popular Vote is not a change that can be easily explained, nor the ramifications thought through in sound bites. It takes a keen political mind to understand just how much it can help . . . Republicans.  . . . Opponents either have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea or don’t fully understand it. . . .  We believe that the more exposure and discussion the reform has the more support that will build for it.”
 
The National Advisory Board of National Popular Vote includes former Congressmen John Anderson (R–Illinois and later independent presidential candidate), John Buchanan (R–Alabama), Tom Campbell (R–California), and Tom Downey (D–New York), and former Senators Birch Bayh (D–Indiana), David Durenberger (R–Minnesota), and Jake Garn (R–Utah). Supporters include former Senator Fred Thompson (R–TN), Governor Jim Edgar (R–IL), Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA)

Saul Anuzis, former Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party for five years and a former candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, supports the National Popular Vote plan as the fairest way to make sure every vote matters, and also as a way to help Conservative Republican candidates. This is not a partisan issue and the NPV plan would not help either party over the other.

Rich Bolen, a Constitutional scholar, attorney at law, and Republican Party Chairman for Lexington County, South Carolina, wrote:“A Conservative Case for National Popular Vote: Why I support a state-based plan to reform the Electoral College.”

posted by: robn | February 25, 2014  1:22pm

AV,

Your point about advantage is significant but the question really isn’t about advantage; its about fair representation.
The electoral college was created because southern states liked the idea that their representation would be disproportionately pumped up (slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a human for the purpose of EC allocation, even if slaves were, in reality, treated as subhuman.)
The EC was also about surrogate voting (the founders were pretty sure that average Americans were too stupid to vote for themselves.)
Sometimes I feel the same way but nevertheless, everybody should get a chance to vote for the same candidates. Electoral vote finagling maintains full choice for early primary states and diminishes choice for late primary states.

posted by: ASTANVET | February 25, 2014  2:39pm

what a buffoon!  Small states making themselves irrelevant… Each state should have the same number of electoral votes - that is the only reform that should be considered, giving equal representation to large/small states.  No more winning the election because of CA, TX, FL, PA, NY - equal protection under the law.  Popular vote is pure democracy, which can be very bad for the 49% who don’t share a particular opinion.  Representative government, federalism, republican form of government is suppose to protect us from mob rule… let’s just dismantle that, eh Dannel?

posted by: mvymvy | February 25, 2014  4:47pm

With the current state-by-state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since 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 a mere 23% of the nation’s votes!

posted by: mvymvy | February 25, 2014  4:49pm

In 1789, in the nation’s first election, the people had no vote for President in most states. Only men who owned a substantial amount of property could vote.  Since then, state laws gave the people the right to vote for President in all 50 states and DC. 

The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates.  In the current presidential election system, 48 states award all of their electors to the winners of their state.

The National Popular Vote bill would end the disproportionate attention and influence of the “mob” in the current handful of closely divided battleground states, such as Ohio and Florida, while the “mobs” of the vast majority of states are ignored.
9 states determined the 2012 election.
10 of the original 13 states are politically irrelevant in presidential campaigns now.
24 of the 27 lowest population states, that are non-competitive are ignored, in presidential elections.
4 out of 5 Americans were ignored in the 2012 presidential election. After being nominated, Obama visited just eight closely divided battleground states, and Romney visited only 10. These 10 states accounted for 98% of the $940 million spent on campaign advertising.

The current system does not provide some kind of check on the “mobs.” There have been 22,991 electoral votes cast since presidential elections became competitive (in 1796), and only 17 have been cast for someone other than the candidate nominated by the elector’s own political party. 1796 remains the only instance when the elector might have thought, at the time he voted, that his vote might affect the national outcome. Since 1796, the Electoral College has had the form, but not the substance, of the deliberative body envisioned by the Founders. The electors now are dedicated party activists of the winning party who meet briefly in mid-December to cast their totally predictable rubberstamped votes in accordance with their pre-announced pledges.

If a Democratic presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state’s dedicated Democratic party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. If a Republican presidential candidate receives the most votes, the state’s dedicated Republican party activists who have been chosen as its slate of electors become the Electoral College voting bloc. The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who collects 270 votes from Electoral College voters from among the winning party’s dedicated activists.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state laws guaranteeing faithful voting by presidential electors (because the states have plenary power over presidential electors).

posted by: mvymvy | February 25, 2014  4:52pm

Unable to agree on any particular method, the Founding Fathers left the choice of method for selecting presidential electors exclusively to the states by adopting the language contained in section 1 of Article II of the U.S. Constitution—“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.”

States have the responsibility and power to make all of their voters relevant in every presidential election and beyond.

The National Popular Vote bill preserves the Electoral College and state control of elections.  It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College.  The candidate with the most votes would win, as in virtually every other election in the country.

Under National Popular Vote, every voter, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the state counts and national count.

When states with a combined total of at least 270 Electoral College votes enact the bill, the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC would get the needed majority of 270+ Electoral College votes from the enacting states. The bill would thus guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes.

The Republic is not in any danger from National Popular Vote.
National Popular Vote has nothing to do with pure democracy. Pure democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly. With National Popular Vote, the United States would still be a republic, in which citizens continue to elect the President by a majority of Electoral College votes by states, to represent us and conduct the business of government.

Federalism concerns the allocation of power between state governments and the national government.  The National Popular Vote bill concerns how votes are tallied, not how much power state governments possess relative to the national government.  The powers of state governments are neither increased nor decreased based on whether presidential electors are selected along the state boundary lines, or national lines (as with the National Popular Vote).

posted by: StanMuzyk | March 3, 2014  12:35pm

Gov. Malloy LIKES everything that Pres. Obama promotes. He belongs in Obama’s cabinet.

posted by: ASTANVET | March 4, 2014  9:52pm

mvymvy - what you fail to account for is that elections, whether national or state wide will be, and are, carried by urban populations.  A national popular votes would render rural areas virtually irrelevant.  It is no secret that urban and rural areas do not share common concerns or cultural ties.  Much like the Shay’s rebellion in the aftermath of the Revolution Urban areas have been known to tax rural areas to fund issues that plague urban areas… it sews the seeds of discontent and is FAR from equal.  You seek to bring a special brand of tyranny where the 50% +1 can tyrannize the 49% through the legislative process and national elections.  A quick search of the electoral map posted by politico showing districts will illustrate my point.  when 98% of the land mass and districts are RED and 2% are blue but the state goes blue - that’s how the national popular vote will go.