Trumbull delegation splits vote on voting

The vote to add Connecticut to the National Popular Vote Compact split the town’s delegation along party lines, with Republican representatives Laura Devlin, Ben McGorty and David Rutigliano voting against it. State Sen. Marilyn Moore, a Democrat, supported it and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Tim Herbst vowed that if the bill had crossed his desk he would veto it.

Under the compact, which has been approved by the General Assembly, Connecticut would join 11 other states in allocating their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The compact would go into effect once enough states sign on to deliver 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win. Each state has a number of electoral votes equal to its number of U.S. representatives plus U.S. senators. The system is designed to give smaller states disproportionate weight in electing a president. Connecticut has seven electoral votes. The other 11 states combine to total 165 electoral votes, meaning the compact will be 98 electoral votes short of taking effect after Connecticut joins.

“Joining the interstate compact to adopt the national popular vote is not in the best interest of Connecticut voters because our electoral votes will no longer reflect the will of our state’s citizens,” Devlin said. “Under the compact, Connecticut’s popular vote will no longer matter because, regardless of the popular vote in our state, Connecticut’s electoral votes will be cast for the winner of the national popular vote.”

Devlin said the electoral system forces presidential candidates to gain support from different groups of people in different parts of the country.

“Our nation’s founders deliberately wanted to let the majority rule, but not leave out minority voices,” she said. “They can’t just focus on the most populous states — they must win many states in different geographies. It also encourages coalition building, discourages a focus on regionalism or special interests, and ensures quick and clear election outcomes.”

Moore had a different take, saying that the fairest way to elect a president is to declare the candidate who receives the most votes the winner. Connecticut, given its relatively small size and recent trend of voting for Democratic presidential candidates, has essentially been left out of presidential politics, she said.

“The winner of the presidential election should be the person who receives the most votes, but twice in the last 18 years the president has failed to win a majority of the national popular vote,” Moore said. “A few swing states — and Connecticut was not one of them — ultimately decided those elections.”

Moore also pointed to a poll conducted by the group Make Every Vote Count, a pro-national popular vote organization, indicating that 76% of state residents support the compact.

Herbst, the former Trumbull first selectman, said the national popular vote was another point of difference between him and Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is expected to sign the bill.

“You have 50 states, and the states have very different standards for voting and voter registration,” he said. “Some states have early voting, states have different deadlines to register. In Connecticut, you can register the day of the election. If you are going to have a national election, there should be a universal standard for voting and a system in place to prevent voting in multiple states. There are not enough protections in place to guarantee there wouldn’t be voter fraud.”

Herbst said large states like California and New York that typically vote Democrat by large margins, and heavily Republican Texas, would overwhelm states like Connecticut through sheer numbers.

“States like Connecticut, Arkansas and Rhode Island would become irrelevant,” he said.