Christine Stuart photo

The National Popular Vote Compact got one step closer Friday to becoming law when the Government Administration and Elections Committee forwarded the bill to the Senate with a 9-4 vote.

Joining the National Popular Vote Compact has become a perennial issue in the Connecticut legislature but has yet to be passed into law.

Under the bill, Connecticut would join nine other states and the District of Columbia in an agreement that would become effective only if enough states joined so that 270 electoral votes, or enough votes to win the election, went to the winner of the popular vote.

Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, promised a lengthier debate on the bill when it reached the Senate floor, but gave his colleagues a more than 20-minute preview of his opposition to the bill during a committee meeting Friday.

“The National Popular Vote bill before us kicks aside the Republic of the United States in favor of democracy,” McLachlan said. “Now everybody thinks that democracy is a good idea. Well, of course it’s a good idea. But when you talk about the debate about why the United States of America has been successful versus some democracies that did not last as long as the United States did, some of that goes to the success of the Republic form of government.”

McLachlan went onto argue that “the National Popular Vote Compact is tearing away at the Republic form of government of the United States of America.”

He said the history of the constitutional convention makes clear why this one office of president is elected differently, “it was for a reason.”

But Rep. Ed Jutila, who supports a National Popular Vote and co-chairs the General Administration and Elections Committee, said “the Electoral College of today is not the one the founding fathers anticipated.”

He said Connecticut should join the compact because “everybody’s vote should be equal. Number two, every vote, in every state should be politically relevant in every election. Number three, the candidate for president who gets the most votes nationally should win.”

The issue received attention in recent years after the 2000 presidential 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.

Aside from 2000, the electoral college vote took precedence over the popular vote in three other elections: 1824, 1876, and 1888.

Supports of the bill also believe it would inspire presidential candidates to visit the state and campaign because the votes in Connecticut would count as much as the votes in other states. Opponents don’t believe it would have any impact on how often presidential candidates visit the state.

The committee forwarded the bill to the floor of the Senate by a 9-4 vote Friday.

This year, the bill has the support of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who voiced his support for the measure last month.