Letter: National popular vote would be good for Connecticut

To the Editor:

In his March 23 letter to the editor, Greg Darak made a number of points in response to my previous letters on the topic of Connecticut’s joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Leaving aside his various mischaracterizations of my arguments, I would like to address his three points that regard the Compact itself.

With regard to Mr. Darak’s reassertion that presidential candidates will only campaign in large states under a national popular vote: National elections in other developed republics do not ignore rural and suburban areas. Gubernatorial candidates in Connecticut (who need to win the popular vote in our state) do not campaign only in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford; if they did, they would almost certainly lose. So it is strange to think that large states would receive disproportionate attention under a national popular vote, as all evidence suggests that candidates would have to mount national campaigns to win a truly national election. That would be good for voters in Connecticut, who currently receive almost no attention from presidential candidates. Despite Mr. Darak's assertion to the contrary, I believe that would be a good thing.

With regard to Mr. Darak’s assertion that the Electoral College was set up as part of an elaborate system of checks and balances: Sadly, the Electoral College system was not set up by the Founding Fathers for this purpose, but rather primarily as a way to overrepresent the votes of whites in Southern slave states and to allow elites to circumvent the will of the majority if they deemed it necessary. Because of the three-fifths compromise under which slaves counted less for census purposes than whites, a national popular vote in 1788 would have always elected a Northerner. The Electoral College ensured that whites in slave-holding states would have their voices amplified. Further, as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 68, if the choice of the majority of voters was found "not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications" by the Electors, those supposedly detached and learned men could choose a different winner. Thankfully, these vestigial reasons are no longer relevant, and we can focus on how the Electoral College can work best in 2017 and beyond.

Finally, while I share some of Mr. Darak’s concerns that the two major parties’ primaries are in many ways unrepresentative, I disagree with him that this is a reason to delay adoption of the Compact. The parties need to reform, but the “state by state, winner take all” system of distributing Electoral College votes is outmoded regardless of whether they do.

Our representatives in Hartford have responded favorably by passing H.B. 5434 out of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. I hope my fellow Trumbull residents will join me in advocating that this important bill be scheduled for a full vote as soon as possible, so that all votes—in Connecticut, and the whole USA—will be counted equally.