Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Sen. Michael McLachlan debates the bill with Sen. Mae Flexer (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut is on the precipice of adding its seven electoral votes to the National Popular Vote Compact and embracing the idea that the winner of the popular vote should win the presidency.

The Senate gave final passage to a bill that would allow Connecticut to join the National Popular Vote Compact, which would take effect when enacted into law by states possessing 270 electoral votes (a majority of the 538 electoral votes).

The compact has been enacted by a total of 11 states possessing 165 electoral votes. Connecticut’s action Saturday brings that up to 172 electoral votes, which is still 98 votes shy of the 270 votes needed to allow the group to designate its votes to the winner of the popular vote.

The Senate, which debated the issue for several hours Saturday, voted 21-14 to send the bill to the governor.

Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, said he’s been studying the issue for 10 years and it’s still confusing about how they would certify the counts in states that are not part of the compact.

He said it could still possibly open the state up to litigation because he doesn’t believe it’s constitutional. 

The Connecticut General Assembly has been debating the issue for more than a decade.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz was nervous about allowing it to come to a vote last year because he was afraid it would be viewed through a partisan lens. However, he allowed the vote in the House to move forward last month and it passed, 77-73.

The Connecticut House approved legislation to join the National Popular Vote compact in 2009, but that year the Senate failed to take up the bill.

In 2014, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced his support for the legislation, but it wasn’t raised for a vote in either chamber that year.

On Saturday, Malloy said he plans to sign the legislation into law.

“With the exception of the presidency, every elected office in the country, from city council, to United States senator, to governor, is awarded the candidate who receives the most votes,” Malloy said. “The vote of every American citizen should count equally, yet under the current system, voters from sparsely populated states are awarded significantly more power than those from states like Connecticut. This is fundamentally unfair. The National Popular Vote compact will ensure an equal vote for every American citizen, regardless of which state they happen to live in.”

In the last presidential election, Republican President Donald Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by nearly 2.9 million votes to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But he won the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win the White House.

Clinton won Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes, as she won 54.57 percent of Connecticut’s vote to Trump’s 40.93 percent. Minor party candidates picked up the remaining votes.

Trump was recently on “Fox & Friends” saying he supported the popular vote.

“The Electoral College is different. I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote,” Trump said.

Barry Fadem, president of the National Popular vote, said they looked forward to this being signed into law. He said it “will move us closer to assuring that every vote cast for president in Connecticut will matter in every presidential election.”

Making Every Vote Count Foundation Board Member James Glassman said the Senate vote recognizes “the virtue of our ‘one person, one vote’ system of government.”