With a national popular vote, every vote for president will be counted
I’m now a resident of Washington, D.C., but I lived for 10 years in the beautiful Litchfield County town of Canaan, also known as Falls Village, population 1,081. I am a longtime Republican, having served as under secretary of state in the administration of George W. Bush.
On the other hand, my sister Betsy Glassman, who lives in Litchfield, ran for state representative several years ago as a Democrat. More important than our different party affiliations, we both are deeply concerned about the political alienation and disillusionment that’s currently affecting the nation.
It should be no surprise then that we both support enacting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which stipulates the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationally wins the election.
This is not a partisan matter. It hurts us all. In our last election, 102 million eligible Americans did not vote. Americans feel left out of the political process, and no wonder. For the majority of us, our votes for president don’t matter. Our presidential elections are decided by just a handful of purple states — eight to 12. In the last election, 94 percent of events were held in a dozen states. In other states, blue like Connecticut or red like Oklahoma, no one campaigns, and our votes make no difference.
Connecticut’s legislature now has a chance to join 10 other states and the District of Columbia in passing a law that will eventually change the method of electing the president to the same way we elect them — by a popular vote. It is also how we elect the U.S. Congress, governors, mayors — every office but president.
That must change. Polls have consistently shown that most Americans prefer a popular vote to the system we have now — and a survey released last month finds that 78 percent of all Connecticut voters, including most Republicans, want to pick the president by popular vote as well. Also, at a time when there is deep concern about adversaries trying to meddle in our elections, voters believe — correctly — that a popular vote will be more secure than an election decided in a handful of states.
Why do I, a Republican, support a popular vote for president? After all, in the past five elections, the current system has produced two GOP presidents who received fewer popular votes than their opponents. But that view is short-sighted. If 60,000 Ohio voters had cast their ballots for John Kerry instead of George W. Bush in 2004, the Democrat would have been president — despite losing by 3 million popular votes.
Last November, days after his own victory, Donald Trump said: “I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win.”
I do not know if that is still his position, but he has the argument right. A popular vote brings all the states into play, including Connecticut. All of the state’s voters, regardless of political affiliation, should support this bill because it means that, whether they vote for a Democrat or a Republican or someone else, they will be casting a vote for president that counts.