The United States could soon be using the national popular vote to elect its president, with a new state entering a pact to pledging to end the Electoral College.
This week, Connecticut is planning to join 10 other states plus the District of Columbia in a pact to pool their electoral votes and give them to the popular-vote winner. As NPR reported, the addition of Connecticut gives considerable momentum to an idea that would drastically change American elections.
In Connecticut, the state Senate approved a bill over the weekend that will now be sent to Gov. Dannel Malloy, who has said he will sign it.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
There are still more steps before the National Popular Vote compact is put into action. The agreement does not go into effect when there are enough states to reach 270 electoral votes, and so far it has been passed only in states that lean heavily blue — California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state, and Washington, D.C.
There are signs that the National Popular Vote compact is gaining ground in other states. It has already passed at least one house in 12 additional states with 96 total electoral votes and approved by committees in two other states with a total of 27 electoral votes. The measure would need 105 more electoral votes to go into effect.
The idea of moving to a popular vote to elect the president has grown in popularity after Donald Trump was elected by a wide margin in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by more than 3 million votes in 2016. As NPR noted, it is possible for a candidate to be elected president while earning less than 25 percent of the national vote.
The Electoral College also shifts disproportionate power to the smallest states. In the Electoral College, the least-populated states like Wyoming have greater voting power given that the minimum number of electoral votes for a state is three. Voters in Wyoming have 3.5 times the voting power of those in California, The Huffington Post pointed out.
Even if the National Popular Vote compact as it stands had been in effect in 2016, the result of the election would not have changed. The only states to have signed on so far were all won by Hillary Clinton.