The Connecticut State Legislature has proposed legislation that would give all electoral votes to the popularly elected presidential candidate.
Following the election of Donald J. Trump, there was much dispute among citizens about the Electoral College. This debate stems from the nature of President Trump’s win. He joins six other presidents who have lost the popular vote (direct vote of citizens), but won the electoral vote (vote by representatives).
The movement to pass such legislation originates from the National Voter Compact.
“States will adopt or enter into a compact that will vote their electors to the winner of the national popular vote,” Jonathan Perloe, a representative for the National Popular Vote Connecticut said. “The way states organize their electoral votes today, like in Maine and Nebraska, is done through state passed laws. This is what is most important, logistically, is that the compact does not require a constitutional amendment. ”
UConn Constitutional Law professor Douglas Spencer explained the process further.
“The Constitution gives power to each state to appoint in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct the members of the Electoral College,” Spencer said. “In every state, the legislature appoints members of the Electoral College based on how voters in that state voted (two states -- Nebraska and Maine -- appoint electors based on the outcome in each congressional district, and the rest of the states appoint electors based on the outcome of the entire state). But it is totally constitutional if a state legislature decides to appoint electors based on the national popular vote, as in H.B. 5434.”
The Electoral College was initially created as a way to appease the South to ratifying the Constitution. The South had feared their votes would not be equally represented because slaves were not counted in their population size and there would be misrepresentation in Congress. It was a compromise between a direct vote, like the popular vote, and an election by representative, more similar to the Electoral College. The number of electors a state gets depends on their population, which is why states like California will have 55 and Connecticut will have seven, according to the New York Times.
“Our view is that there should not be some elite group of people who make the decision for the people,” Perloe said. “The president should be the one who got the most votes. Period.”
There are currently ten states and Washington D.C. who have ratified, which totals over 160 electoral votes.
“The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is an attempt to get around the Electoral College without amending the Constitution,” Spencer said. “And while a state legislature is free to appoint electors however it wants, one state cannot enforce the Interstate Compact against another state unless Congress endorses the Compact. No Republican Congress will endorse this compact so it won't be able to be enforced.”
Perloe is optimistic that this will receive bipartisan support, as it has previously in other state legislatures.
“It is being actively considered in Republican controlled legislatures,” Perloe said. “Where legislatures are not getting on board, there is support through voter ballot initiatives.”
Perloe stresses the importance of individuals getting involved with state proceedings to pass measures such as H.B. 5434 to change election procedure.
“Success does depend on the citizen standing up and saying they want their vote to matter and they want their vote to count equally,” Perloe said.
Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.