Connecticut should withdraw from flawed, foolish popular vote compact

The Democratic controlled state legislature has a chance to reverse a major mistake made in 2018 when Connecticut joined the contrivance called the National Popular Vote compact. Under its provisions, Connecticut would no longer award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who won the state vote. Instead, the candidate who got the most votes in the national count would receive our electoral votes.

In 2004, for example, Connecticut was won by Democratic nominee John Kerry over Republican President George W. Bush by a margin of 10.4 percent — a landslide. But if the law was in play then, Connecticut would have assigned its seven electoral votes to Bush because he won the national vote by 2.4 percent.

We don’t see how that serves Connecticut voters well.

The compact becomes effective only if states representing at least 270 electoral votes, the amount needed to win, join up. The movement is 98 electoral votes short. Hopefully, it never gets to that number.

Better yet to see Connecticut back out. But alas, the bill to revoke Connecticut’s participation was introduced by Republican state Rep. Kurt Vail of Stafford and the Democratic leadership appears unlikely to even give it a hearing. It should.

The compact’s intent is to assure the candidate with the most popular votes wins. The right way to do that would be amend the U.S. Constitution, but there is no political path to that end.

The founders provided a system under which every state, despite size and population, gets two electors for its two U.S. senators, plus a number of electors equal to its House representatives. This gives relatively small states — meaning Connecticut — greater influence in electing a president than their populations would suggest. Connecticut, for instance, has 514,300 people per elector, compared to 744,740 per elector in Texas.

This is rooted in the “Connecticut Plan,” introduced at the Constitutional Convention. The plan recognized that since this is a federation of states, some degree of comparable standing was appropriate in electing a president.

Yet our modern-day Connecticut leaders are ready to toss this protection away and invite chaos.

Imagine the controversy if this plan was in place and the national vote was too close to call. The nation would face recounts in 50 states.

The compact would encourage multi-candidate races, with a president being handed an electoral majority after getting, say, 35 percent of the vote, potentially without even winning a state. 

Also, what is to stop a state legislature from pulling out its electoral votes in a close election? Not the compact, we suspect.

And there is this language in Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution: “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress … enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State.”

Fix this mistake. Withdraw from the compact.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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