Lawmakers in Connecticut advanced a process that could make it the latest to be included in a growing coalition of states dedicated to supporting the winner of the popular vote in presidential elections.
As The Hill reported, Democrats in the state House pushed a measure that narrowly passed Thursday, largely along party lines.
If successful, the bill would pledge Connecticut’s electoral votes to the winner of presidential elections, though it would only go into effect if enough other states joined the compact.
So far, 10 states are already signed on with a combined 165 electoral votes at stake. Connecticut would add another seven.
The potentially consequential clause would not be implemented, however, unless the states included represent 270 electoral votes, enough to decide the winner.
In Connecticut, just one Republican lawmaker cast a vote in favor of the bill. Three Democrats voted against it.
Supporters point to the 2000 and 2016 elections, both of which led to the inauguration of Republican presidents who received fewer votes than their opponents, as evidence such reform is needed.
President Donald Trump’s win triggered renewed calls for an end to the electoral college model described in the Constitution.
Republicans opposed to measures like the one approved by the Connecticut House fear this compact provides an end run around the representative republic America’s founders envisioned.
They say such a change would require approval by federal lawmakers.
“This is an act of political theater, artificial gimmick,” said Connecticut state Rep. David Labriola, a Republican.
He went on to call the bill “not necessary” and “not constitutional.”
The state’s attorney general had not yet weighed in on the legality of the bill as of the vote this week.
Democrats like Rep. Daniel Fox argue the Electoral College would remain in place, but the final result would be more reflective of the will of the people.
“We could make a profound change that would enhance confidence, participation, excitement of a presidential election in small and large states alike,” he said.
State senators are expected to face a similarly partisan vote on the measure, though it has some powerful support at each stop along the way.
The President Pro Tem of the Senate, Martin Looney, and Gov. Dannel Malloy, both Democrats, have expressed support of the bill.
According to the Connecticut Mirror, a number of opponents also expressed concern that the shift could lead to voter disenfranchisement since the state’s votes would potentially go to a candidate the state’s voters did not support.
Fox responded to such criticism by asserting that the state’s current electoral system also lacks direct voter representation by casting all of its electoral votes for the winning candidate regardless of how close the runner-up came.
New Haven Alderman Steven Winter has been a vocal advocate for the state’s inclusion in the compact, telling voters across the ideological spectrum that it would give small states like Connecticut a bigger voice in presidential elections.
“I think when you talk to voters about this, they’re more concerned about what this will do for Connecticut,” he said. “What role will Connecticut have in national elections vis a vis small states, large states, big cities, those kinds of things.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.