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Advocates Promote Bill to Ensure Majority Rule

A 2008 poll showed 74 percent of Connecticut voters favored a nationwide popular vote for president. (Tim Evanson/Flickr)
A 2008 poll showed 74 percent of Connecticut voters favored a nationwide popular vote for president. (Tim Evanson/Flickr)
November 21, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. – This election was the fifth time in U.S. history that the candidate who got the most votes failed to win the presidency, but a bill that has passed in ten states and the District of Columbia could change that.

The Constitution says the states decide how to allocate their votes in the Electoral College. The National Popular Vote bill is an interstate compact that would assign a state's electoral college votes based on the national vote tally.

Patrick Rosenstiel, a senior consultant with the group National Popular Vote, said the law would be activated in a presidential election year in which 270 or more electoral votes come from states that have the law on their books.

"And those states award all of their electors en bloc to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states,” Rosenstiel explained, "which is the best way, the constitutionally appropriate way, to make this change."

States that already have passed the bill, including New York and Massachusetts, represent a total of 165 electoral votes. It also has passed in one legislative chamber in a dozen other states that comprise an additional 96 electoral votes.

The bill would have an impact before election day, too. Now, presidential campaigns focus on appealing to voters in swing states. According to Rosenstiel, 94 percent of campaign events in 2016 happened in just 12 states - with more than half in only four.

"A national popular vote election would force candidates to campaign in all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” he said, "because the candidate who gets the most votes would be guaranteed the presidency."

The bill has been introduced in all 50 states and has broad, bipartisan support, Rosenstiel said. He pointed out that in polls across the country, 70 percent or more of voters favor a nationwide vote for president.

"We're increasingly confident that the 2020 presidential election will be run under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact,” Rosenstiel said. "And we believe that's going to be in the best interests of the country and the best interests of the body politic."

Gov. Dannel Malloy endorsed the bill in 2014 and it passed the Connecticut House of Representatives in 2009, but it has failed to pass the state Senate.

More information is online at nationalpopularvote.com.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT