It looked like a bill endorsing the national popular vote had been defeated by one vote until a handful of lawmakers in the House stood up to change their votes Tuesday night. The vote, which was 72 to 73 after the machine was locked, quickly became 76 to 69 as Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury, Rep. Buddy Altobello, D-Meriden, and Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor Locks, stood up to change their votes moments after the vote had been tallied.
The bill will have Connecticut join a compact of others states to cast its presidential electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote.
Opponents of the bill argued that under the legislation Connecticut would have given its electoral votes to former President George Bush in the 2004 election when Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry had won the state’s popular vote. Proponents say it would force presidential candidates to visit every state, not just swing states during a campaign.
Under the current winner-take-all system, candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the concerns of voters of states that they cannot possibly win or lose, proponents of the bill say. This means that voters in two-thirds of the states are effectively disenfranchised in presidential elections because candidates concentrate their attention on a small handful of “battleground” states.
In 2008, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in just six states and 98 percent of their money in just 15 states, a press release touting the bills passage said.
The national popular vote compact has been enacted by states possessing 61 electoral votes—23 percent of the 270 necessary to activate the law. The compact has been ratified in Hawaii, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland.
In Connecticut the bill now goes to the Senate.