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In a recent post Nate Silver informs us that the current Electoral College map favors Democrats, because GOP voters are more inefficiently distributed across the country than Democratic voters:
Two more presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, will be contested under the current Electoral College configuration, which gave Barack Obama a second term on Tuesday. This year's results suggest that this could put Republicans at a structural disadvantage... A large number of electorally critical states - both traditional swing states like Iowa and Pennsylvania and newer ones like Colorado and Nevada - have been Democratic-leaning in the past two elections. If Democrats lose the election in a blowout, they would probably lose these states as well. But in a close election, they are favored in them.
Does that mean that Democrats should give up trying to pass the "National Popular Vote" (NPV) interstate compact in Connecticut? No, it does not. Does it mean Republicans will stop obstructing the passage of NPV? No, it does not.
The Electoral College is enshrined in the US Constitution, but about a decade ago, an elegant solution was devised (Yale Law School Professor and Connecticut resident Akhil Amar is one of the people usually credited) to circumvent the need for a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College by creating a "compact" among states to voluntarily award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Thus the National Popular Vote movement was born. The compact idea is gaining momentum: nine states and the District of Columbia, with 132 electoral votes combined, have already signed onto the idea, with more and more states coming on board every year. The compact becomes operational when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes - that is, 270 of 538.
The first national popular vote bill was introduced in Connecticut in 2007 by Rep. Andrew Fleischman. In 2009 the Connecticut House became the 28th state legislative chamber in the country to pass the National Popular Vote bill. But the push for NPV, strenuously opposed by Republicans in the General Assembly, has stalled since 2009.
Most of the GOP arguments against NPV have been, to quote the Vice President, malarkey. In the Norwich Bulletin, Ray Hackett argued that the legislature simply doesn't have time to address the fairness of our voting system because this is a distraction from focusing like a laser on slashing services for the poor and sticking it to public workers. State Senator Michael McLachlan thought it was more important to introduce a birther bill into the Government Administration and Elections committee in 2011 than to address National Popular Vote. Chris Powell argued in the Journal-Inquirer that we need to maintain the Electoral College status quo in order to dilute the effect of millions of "illegals" fraudulently voting in California and New York, and thereby stealing the election for Democratic candidates. Lowell Weicker's budget director Bill Cibes objects to NPV because he thinks it would not increase our state's political influence, which is not only factually debatable, but also completely misunderstands the rationale for doing it in the first place.
Are there some good arguments against neutering the Electoral College? Yes, there are. As BlastFromGlast and others (from across the political spectrum) have pointed out, getting a clear, undisputed national vote count is not as simple as it sounds. The election was a week ago, but there are hundreds of thousands of votes still to be counted in Arizona, California, Washington, Alaska, and storm-battered New York. It doesn't matter because none of these are swing states -- under NPV that would not be the case. But the answer here is not to maintain the Electoral College system, but to streamline, professionalize, and ultimately federalize election administration, as election law expert and "Voting Wars" author Rick Hasen has argued. The genuine travesty of election administration in America needs to be addressed at the roots, not papered over with a ludicrous 18th century anachronism.
Arguments against Connecticut adopting National Popular Vote legislation simply do not add up. The bottom line is that the Electoral College system means that not every vote counts equally. The fact that it is clearly not in the partisan interest of Democrats right now to adopt the compact is all the more reason to do it now, in the 2013 legislative session. Doing it now would send a clear message that it really doesn't matter which party benefits in the short term, or which states gain influence, from NPV. What matters is the principle of one person, one vote. Every voter in America gets an equal voice in our great democracy.