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Proponents of National Popular Vote Say Nothing Is Ever Dead

by Hugh McQuaid | Feb 24, 2012 2:18pm
(5) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2012, Election Policy, State Capitol

Christine Stuart File Photo

The Government Administration and Election Committee’s deadline to raise bills came and went Friday without a bill to enter into the presidential National Popular Vote Compact.

Last year the committee voted 10 to 5 to pass a bill that would have Connecticut join an agreement with nine other states whose Electoral College delegates cast their votes for whichever presidential candidate gets the most votes in the general election. But the bill was never raised on the House floor.

While advocates are still saying there’s a chance the concept will be raised this year, the committee’s co-chairs said otherwise on Thursday.

“We’ve determined that is not going to be on our agenda this session,” Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D- Milford, said.

Slossberg said there are a lot of proposals the committee wants to address this year like a constitutional amendment concerning absentee voting. Because this is a short legislative session they will not have time to debate changes to the way the state elects the president, she said.

“We don’t think this is the right time for use to be doing this,” she said.

The committee’s Co-Chairman Rep. Russ Morin, D- Wethersfield, said it was unlikely to be addressed this year.

“Probably not. I’m still having discussions with people. It’s tough to get everything done in a short session,” he said Thursday.

The news was not welcomed by Vice Chair Sen. Edward Meyer, D- Guilford, who said he’s heard from dozens of constituents supporting the idea and not one opposing it.

“I’m upset by it. I think National Popular Vote is the direction we should be going in and 2012 is a wonderful year to do it because it’s a presidential election year. I’ve told [Morin and Slossberg] about my unhappiness,” he said.

Sen. Gary LeBeau, D- East Hartford, agreed.

“I understand there’s a lot on their plates, things they have to do, but I’m disappointed. I’m hopeful we’ll take it up next year. Or there’s always the possibility of amendments. Who knows,” he said.

Though there’s no bill, advocates are warning against counting the concept dead for the year. Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause, said the National Popular Vote may surface in some form before the session is out. If it does she believes it has enough votes in both chambers to pass.

National Popular Vote Regional Director Ryan O’Donnell said anything can happen in a legislative session.

“I’m very hopeful it’s going to be this year,” he said.

If the bill doesn’t pass, the presidential election this year will demonstrate how the current system marginalizes Connecticut’s influence, O’Donnell said.

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posted by: mvymvy | February 24, 2012  3:32pm

A survey of Connecticut voters conducted on May 14–15, 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.

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 of the first question, 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.

Then, voters asked a second question that emphasized that Connecticut’s electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote in all 50 states, not Connecticut, vote. In this second question, 68% of Connecticut voters favored a national popular vote.

“Do you think it more important that Connecticut’s electoral votes be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most popular vote in Connecticut, or is it more important to guarantee that the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states becomes president?”

Support of the second question, by political affiliation, was 74% among Democrats, 62% among Republicans, and 63% among others. By gender, support was 75% among women and 59% among men. By age, support was 75% among 18-29 year olds, 57% among 30-45 year olds, 68% among 46-65 year olds, and 70% for those older than 65.

NationalPopularVote

posted by: MrSpartan | February 24, 2012  9:57pm

The National Popular Vote is, in fact, an end run around the US Constitution’s checks and balances system of electing the President. It seeks to further weaken the role that our 50 great States play in our American Federation.

The Constitution does not call for ANY popular election of the US President, but rather an election by the STATES.

The NPV scheme will elect our President with a PLURALITY of votes - “the MOST votes” - rather than a majority of State votes that has been required since our nation’s founding in 1788.

It will be possible, and likely, that future US President’s will be elected with only 35% to 39% of the popular vote as the field crowds with more candidates.  Fully 2/3 of America could vote AGAINST a candidate under the NPV and still be elected.

The method of electing the President has not been changed since our nation was created 224 years ago because it has worked as an invaluable safeguard to keep our Republic together.

The US Census Bureau just announced that the City of Detroit has 523,000 residents over the age of 23.  The City of Detroit reports that they have 560,000 registered voters. So, let’s elect our President strictly with a popular vote! (Not!)  The Electoral College helps insulate us from problems like this.

NPV backers will tell you that our Founders “were unable to agree” on the best way to elect the President and simply left that point as unfinished business - a problem apparently left for over 200 years for these 21st Century ‘geniuses’ to solve.  BUT, here is what Alexander Hamilton wrote to his New York constituents at the time:

By Alexander Hamilton   Published in the Independent Journal, Wednesday, March 12, 1788  
To the People of the State of New York:
 
  “THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents.
  “I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent.”

Preserve the American Federation and oppose the National Popular Vote scheme.

posted by: Opining Quill | February 27, 2012  11:34am

Yes the surveys support a change based on a national popular vote.  How many people really know and understand why we even have the Electoral College system.  People voting or voicing their opinion on something they don’t fully understand results in meaningless statistics.  Another example of this is a recent survey of people (that most likely did not understand the question)but the vast majority indicated they would like to ban water in this country. Eliminating the Electoral College is akin to eliminating the U. S. Senate and depending on the U. S. House of Representatives to make all legislative decisions.  Small states with lesser populations like Connecticut could become almost irrelevant in national politics and policies.

posted by: mvymvy | February 27, 2012  1:40pm

With the current state winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, winning a bare plurality of the popular vote in the 11 most populous states, containing 56% of the population, could win the Presidency with a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

If an Electoral College type of arrangement were essential for avoiding a proliferation of candidates and people being elected with low percentages of the vote, we should see evidence of these conjectured apocalyptic outcomes in elections that do not employ such an arrangement.  In elections in which the winner is the candidate receiving the most votes throughout the entire jurisdiction served by that office, historical evidence shows that there is no massive proliferation of third-party candidates and candidates do not win with small percentages. For example, in 905 elections for governor in the last 60 years, the winning candidate received more than 50% of the vote in over 91% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 45% of the vote in 98% of the elections. The winning candidate received more than 40% of the vote in 99% of the elections. No winning candidate received less than 35% of the popular vote.
 
Since 1824 there have been 16 presidential elections in which a candidate was elected or reelected without gaining a majority of the popular vote.— including Lincoln (1860), Wilson (1912, and 1916), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Nixon (1968), and Clinton (1992 and 1996).

If the National Popular Vote bill were to become law, it would not change the need for candidates to build a winning coalition across demographics. Any candidate who ignored, for example, the 16% of Americans who live in rural areas in favor of a “big city” approach would not likely win the national popular vote. Candidates would have to appeal to a broad range of demographics, and perhaps even more so, because the election wouldn’t be capable of coming down to just one demographic, such as voters in Ohio.

posted by: mvymvy | February 27, 2012  5:23pm

The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but since enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the primaries, will not reach out to about 76% of the states and their voters, including Connecticut. 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.

Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only the current handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. Connecticut is ignored. There is no incentive for candidates to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win. 9 of the original 13 states are considered “fly-over” now. In the 2012 election, pundits and campaign operatives agree already, that, at most, only 12 states and their voters will matter. They will decide the election. None of the 10 most rural states will matter, as usual. About 76% of the country will be ignored—including 19 of the 22 lowest population and medium-small states, and 17 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. This will be more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states (CO, FL, IN, IA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA, and WI). Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA). In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

More than 2/3rds of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That’s more than 85 million voters ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states, like Connecticut, are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

The number and population of battleground states is shrinking as the U.S. population grows.