State should join Popular Vote Compact

A version of this letter by Michael Barker was published in the Trumbull Times.

The voters of Connecticut have an important opportunity to make sure that all of their votes are counted in the election of the President and Vice President. The opportunity is for the Connecticut legislature to agree that the winners of these two national offices should be decided by a national popular vote. This means that all voters, whether they are in the majority or the minority in Connecticut, would have their votes counted directly in the national elections.

Under the current electoral college system, most states have a winner-take-all approach, which awards all of the state’s electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the most votes within the state. This means that all of the individual votes by the minority are negated and do not count directly towards the national election. It also means that the voters in different states have unequal weight because of how the electoral college is composed. As a result, national campaigns focus their time and money on just a few swing states, and do not pay much attention to states like Connecticut, which are not seen as competitive.

These and other problems can be cured by the National Popular Vote Compact, which is a proposed agreement among the states that they will award all of their electoral college votes to whichever candidate receives the most individual votes nationally. The Connecticut bill to join the Compact, H.B. 5434, is pending in the Government Administration and Elections Committee. More than 100 people turned out to the GAE Committee hearing on the Compact on February 22, the most any on the committee could remember ever having attended—truly grassroots support on display. The bill has been endorsed by Governor Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Wyse, and Majority Leader Duff, among others.

The Compact has already been adopted by 10 states and the District of Columbia, representing 165 electoral votes. The Compact would go into effect once adopted by states representing a majority of the electoral votes – 270 out of 538. The electoral college is preserved, but the states would now direct that their electoral votes be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote.

Connecticut should join this effort to make sure that all votes are counted equally in selecting the President and Vice President. Presidential campaigns would have to reach out to all voters, including in Connecticut, and not just those in swing states. All Connecticut voters, both majority and minority, would have a greater incentive to vote because their votes matter nationally. I hope everyone in Trumbull will join me in supporting H.B. 5434 and ask our representatives to stand up for equal voting for national offices.

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