The presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia should be elected. Whether Republican or Democrat, an overwhelming majority of Connecticut voters agree that a national popular vote system is how we ought to elect our chief executive. A national popular vote is consistent with one of America’s deeply held values: every vote should be equally important.
In a poll, 74 percent of Connecticut voters supported a national popular vote. Just last year, Rhode Island passed the National Popular Vote bill with bipartisan support. They joined Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, California, Hawaii and D.C. in doing so.
An election with a state-based national popular vote would elect the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes in all 50 states. Participating states agree to award their electoral votes to the candidate whom wins the overall popular vote. The compact takes effect when the number of participating states represents a majority (270) of the Electoral College votes, that which is constitutionally required to elect the president. National popular vote preserves the Electoral College while maintaining the state’s authority to award electors.
The authority for this method is derived from the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 1 gives the states exclusive control over the manner in which they award their electors. The current system of “winner take-all” in Connecticut, along with 47 other states, awards electors based on the results of the state’s popular vote. This system leads to presidential campaigns that ignore those states in which they feel they are too far ahead or behind in the polls.
Let’s compare Connecticut to Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which are small states that have even fewer electors than Connecticut (seven electors). In the 2012 election post-convention, Iowa (six electors) received 27 visits from the two presidential campaigns. During that same time, New Hampshire (four electors) received 13 presidential campaign visits. Connecticut received ZERO visits from the campaigns. This clearly demonstrates that our current system of electing the president places more value on a perceived “battleground state” status than any other factor.
Connecticut is a national leader in business research and development, patenting, venture capital, and has one of the most highly skilled and educated workforces. In national policy discussions, our president should consider the priorities of our state, and should not be skewed in favor of the states that are perceived to have a greater impact in the next election. Unfortunately, this is common under our current system. Time and time again, under both Republican and Democrat presidents, “battleground states” like Ohio, Virginia, and Florida receive more than their share of federal investment. National popular vote would eliminate this perverse incentive and level the playing field for Connecticut and others.
It’s time we put Connecticut back on the electoral map. Let’s make sure every voice in Connecticut matters when it comes to electing our next president. We should pass national popular vote legislation in the next session.
Cheri Quickmire is executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut.