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Dukakis Takes Bus To Hartford To Pitch National Popular Vote

by | May 14, 2013 4:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election Policy

Christine Stuart photo Former Massachusetts governor and one-time presidential candidate Michael Dukakis visited the state Capitol on Monday to lobby Connecticut lawmakers on National Popular Vote legislation.

Dukakis traveled from Brookline, Mass. to Hartford on Monday by Greyhound bus to speak with several lawmakers in the House and the Senate who are on the fence about whether Connecticut should join the National Popular Vote compact.

“The winner of the popular vote for the presidency ought to become the president of the United States,” Dukakis said in the atrium of the Legislative Office Building Monday. “The best way to do it is this way rather than going through a long constitutional process.”

The National Popular Vote interstate compact is not a new concept to the Connecticut General Assembly. The concept is proposed on a nearly annual basis. If passed, Connecticut would join eight other states and the District of Columbia in the agreement. The compact would become effective if enough states joined so that 270 electoral votes, or enough votes to win the election, went to the winner of the popular vote. Currently, the compact includes about 132 electoral votes.

Dukakis met with Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate along with rank-and-file lawmakers on Monday.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said he had a “great” meeting with Dukakis, but isn’t necessarily off the fence just yet.

“I let him know that I have some reservations, including the potential for state-by-state lawsuits and the practical logistics if a national recount is needed,” Sharkey said. “We agreed that further research on some of the points that came up is needed. At this point we’ll see what the Senate does and run the bill if it has the support of our caucus.”

Rep. David Alexander, D-Enfield, said he too met with Dukakis.

“I agree the Electoral College needs to be abolished,” Alexander said. “I just don’t know if this is the way to do it.”

But Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said he supports the measure.

“I strongly support the bill and hope that we can find the necessary support to pass it,” Williams said.

Supporters of the legislation argue it would make Connecticut more competitive in presidential elections, like the last one in which it was largely ignored by the candidates until they needed money for their campaigns.

“It would force all candidates to have to run everywhere, in a much different way than they do today,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in February during a public hearing on the bill.

Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, said that when campaigns focus their resources and energies on a few battleground states, administrations tend to focus their efforts and resources on those states as well.

But opponents like Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, still believe Connecticut would miss out on presidential visits with a National Popular Vote because it only has about 2.8 million voters.

“If you look at running a general election campaign based on population — where the vote is — Connecticut is a loser,” he said, adding that New York would be the state in the region that would get the most attention based on its concentrated population.

The New York TV market is going to have a bonanza . . . all you’re doing is shifting one way of focusing efforts to another way of focusing efforts but now it’s all in large population centers,” McLachlan said in February during a public hearing.

The issue has been up for discussion in recent years because of the 2000 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.

Aside from 2000, the electoral college vote took precedence over the popular vote in three other elections: 1824, 1876, and 1888.

Dukakis and Barry Fadem, president of the National Popular Vote coalition, are optimistic this will be the year Connecticut joins the compact.

While he was in Hartford, Dukakis also met with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who presides over the Senate. Wyman could be asked to cast a vote if there was a tie among the 36 Senators. But supporters don’t believe it will come down to Wyman.

The last time the issue was raised was in 2011 when it was voted out of committee but never raised in the House of Representatives. This year it’s a Senate bill.

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(5) Archived Comments

posted by: Luther Weeks | May 14, 2013  7:00am

Luther Weeks

Rep. Sharkey’s concerns are justified. Unfortunately, like DDT and Nuclear power the National Popular Vote Agreement has attractive benefits, but many risks that are largely ignored. Cobbling the National Popular Vote on an already flawed system adds to the risks and increases the chances of close elections ending in the Supreme Court or in Congress, Consider:
- There is no official national popular vote number available in time for when electors must be designated. Electors are chosen before states are required to send in their Certificates of Attainment
- There is no national audit or recount law. About half of states have audits and about half recount, but recounts are based on close vote counts in each state, there is no law or body to call for a national recount.
- Given the state by state election system, unlike today, fraud or error in each state can change the national result
- If the Compact approach is taken the flawed system will remain, with worse effects.There are many reasons candidates and citizens could sue and delay results past required dates based on officials using incorrect, unverified, or different sets of numbers.
- Finally unlike other democracies that have a popular vote, all votes are not equal, state to state. The franchise is different, the ease of voting is different, and there is voter suppression.
To do the NPV with integrity, as a prerequisite,  we need a system where every vote and voter is equal, is counted in a way we can trust, with national audits and recounts etc.

posted by: Kim Hynes | May 14, 2013  12:14pm

the U.S. Constitution establishes a strict overall national schedule for finalizing the results of a presidential election. The existing constitutional provisions (and existing supporting federal statutes) apply equally to elections conducted under both the National Popular Vote plan and the current system.

Specifically, the U.S. Constitution requires that the Electoral College meet on a uniform nationwide day in every state. Congress has specified the Monday after the second Wednesday in December as the date for the meeting of the Electoral College.

Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the states are expected to make their “final determination” six days before the Electoral College meets (the so-called “safe harbor” day established by section 5 of Title 3 of the United States Code).

Thus, under both the current system and the National Popular Vote plan, all counting, recounting, and judicial proceedings must be conducted so as to reach a “final determination” by the “safe harbor” day prior to the uniform nationwide date for the meeting of the Electoral College in mid-December.

Thus state recounts and audits will be conducted just as they are now, and states will be required to get final counts in before the Electoral College convenes.

posted by: ASTANVET | May 14, 2013  1:29pm

WOW - i can’t understand why a Democrat would support a ‘popular vote’ plan… huh, i mean it isn’t like metropolitan areas and other densly populated districts vote democrat…oh wait.  So why not call it, we want to push around the rural vote plan… or a ‘stick it to conservatives’ plan… federalism is truly dead.  Those who do not understand why we are a federalist republican (type of government not party) system are just at it all the time to make us no different than any other dicatorship in history.

posted by: Andie Levien | May 14, 2013  2:37pm

I’d also like to point out that under the current system, fraud and error are much more likely to affect the national outcome than they would under a National Popular Vote. In 2000, a switch of 527 votes from Bush to Gore would have resulted in Bush’s defeat, as would have a switch of 59,000 in Ohio in 2004. But if both of those elections had been governed by a National Popular Vote, rather than the current system, you would have needed to switch hundreds of thousands of votes, most likely in many states, in order to elect a different candidate. I’d say it’s better to have a system where you’d need a nearly impossible amount of fraud or error to derail an election, not less.

posted by: Joebigjoe | May 15, 2013  4:18pm

I think we need to start disenfranching voters. Yes I did say that. We know that too many poor people are voting for candidates that will give them the fruits of other peoples labor. We saw it with people openly talking about voting again for Obama to get a phone. I would rather my vote be offset by a looney tunes liberal with crazy ideas than a person who doesnt work that wants what they think are free stuff.

I can assure you that if in 2012 the populace was told that food stamps and welfare benefits were going to go away in 2013 no matter who won, so you’d better vote for the person that gives you the best chance of getting a job, then Romney would have won all 50 states. Even the liberals would have decided that they didnt want these people running around angry and would prefer they have a job.

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