After about five minutes of debate Friday, the Government Administration and Elections Committee approved legislation to add Connecticut to an inter-state agreement to cast its electoral ballots for the presidential candidate that receives the most votes nationally.
If passed, Connecticut would join eight other states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote Compact. The agreement would become effective if enough states joined so that 270 electoral votes, or enough votes to win the election, went to the winner of the popular vote.
The committee approved the bill on a 9-5 vote along party lines.
Rep. Tony Hwang, the committee’s ranking Republican, said he opposed the bill because he felt the compact bypassed the Electoral College.
“In summary, it’s a circumvention of our constitution,” he said.
Hwang said he also had concerns about how recounts would be administered when a presidential election ended with a close vote nationally.
“We’re rushing to find solutions for a problem that may not necessarily be there,” he said.
Rep. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, disagreed.
“This is something that a lot of us have been fighting for for years. It’s a basic question of fairness and far from being an end run around the constitution it protects the state’s role in determining how we allocate our electoral votes in the way that is most fair for the people of our country,” he said.
Despite some debate and lobbying efforts last year in favor of the National Popular Vote, the Government Administration and Elections Committee never raised a bill. In 2011, it was voted out of committee but never raised in the House of Representatives.
According Barry Fadem, President of the National Popular Vote, the electoral college has “permitted candidates to win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of our 57 elections — 1 in 14 times.
The issue has been up for discussion in recent years because of the 2000 election, which saw the Bush-Cheney campaign win the White House with a 271-266 electoral vote advantage despite polling 540,520 fewer popular votes than Gore-Lieberman.