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May 13, 2011

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut would likely see more visits from presidential candidates if a bill heading to the state House floor makes it into law.

Many Americans view the Electoral College as undemocratic, since its winner-take-all approach does not always represent actual votes cast by citizens. Abolishing it requires a constitutional amendment, so some are pursuing another approach: getting states to enter a compact to elect the president by national popular vote.

Christine Horrigan, vice president for public issues at the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, explains the flaw in the current system.

"That has led to the anomaly of having, several times in our country's history, where the winner of the popular vote did not actually win in the Electoral College, so the president didn't reflect the winner of the popular vote."

Each state that enters the compact agrees to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the popular vote nationwide, Horrigan says, even if the vote in that state went for someone else.

Connecticut has seven electoral votes, one for each member of Congress.

In the 2008 election, Horrigan says, 98 percent of campaign spending went to just 15 so-called battleground states - not including Connecticut, which is considered a reliable state for Democratic presidential candidates. Under the compact, she says, candidates' itineraries would have to expand.

"Then these people would have to come and address people in states that are normally overlooked, because they are considered to be sort of reliable states for one party or the other."

The new system would take effect when the states entering the compact represent the number of electoral votes needed to elect the president. So far, eight states have joined, contributing 29 percent of the 270 votes needed.

The text of the bill, HB 6331, is online at cga.ct.gov

Melinda Tuhus/Dallas Heltzell, Public News Service - CT