Westport Activist Wants All Connecticut Votes To Count

As a zoology major Nicole Klein learned that when sea turtles hatch, they instinctively turn to the horizon. That leads them straight to the ocean.

In the aftermath of November’s election, she felt similarly impelled. But it was not until Christmas — when she had a chance to take a break from her very demanding full-time job — that she understood exactly what she had to do.

So she served notice to her employer, McKinsey. Today she devotes herself full time to grassroots political activism.


Nicole Klein

Klein loved McKinsey. The consulting firm encourages personal growth into new areas of the company, and she’d taken full advantage. After 17 years, Klein had worked her way up to global event manager.

But — like those sea turtles — Klein followed her destiny.

She’d been involved in political campaigns from 1992 to 2004. In 2008 she fell in love. “I didn’t care about anything else,” she laughs.

Klein got married, had a child, moved to Westport. In the run-up to this year’s election — as she worked hard for Hillary Clinton — she wanted her 6-year-old son to see what involvement looked like. She brought him to her phone bank shifts.

In the weeks after the election — but before her resignation from McKinsey — Klein grew more active.

She attended Westport Democratic Town Committee meetings. She volunteered as a bus captain for the Women’s March on Washington.

Klein calls that event “one of the 5 best days of my life. It was so powerful to see everyone come together peacefully. It wasn’t a protest — it was a unifying moment.”

Nicole Klein (left) enjoys the Women's March on Washington.

Nicole Klein (left) enjoys the Women’s March on Washington.

Now Klein is putting her event planning talents to work on another project. It’s an informational session on changing the way Connecticut casts its electoral votes for president.

Set for this Thursday (March 2, 7 p.m.) in the Westport Country Playhouse barn, the “State of Voting: CT Debates a New Way to Elect the President” panel includes New Yorker writer Hendrik Hertzberg. It’s part of a move to have our state join 11 others whose legislatures have agreed to let its electors vote for the presidential candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

The idea is that all votes cast nationwide for president will count equally — without abolishing the Electoral College. Under the current method, voters in Connecticut — and other almost-certain blue or red states — are easily ignored.

Of nearly 400 events during the 2016 general election, 94% were held in just 12 battleground states. Only 1 was held in the Constitution State.

equalize-the-vote-ct-logoOrganizers of National Popular Vote CT — including Westporters John Hartwell and Rozanne Gates — call the concept one of fairness. Citizens of every state should have their vote weighed equally, they say.

The project’s leaders also point to surveys that show 3/4 of Connecticut’s voters — including a majority of Republicans — believe the candidate who gets the most votes in the country should become president.

Thursday’s event is non-partisan, Klein says. “We want people to hear the issues, and make up their own minds.”

She hopes for a large turnout at the Playhouse. And when that’s done, she’ll turn her attention to the next activity.

“Not one day goes by that I regret resigning,” Klein says. Every day she feels more excited about being part of the democratic — with a small “d” — process.

In her own way, she’s making sure America stays great.

(“The State of Voting: CT Debates a New Way to Elect the President” — at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 2 in the Westport Country Playhouse barn — is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westport and National Popular Vote CT. The event is free, but seats must be reserved. Click here, email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org, or call 203-227-4177. Video of the event will be available on Facebook Live at NationalPopularVoteCT, and afterward on www.npvct.com)

44 responses to “Westport Activist Wants All Connecticut Votes To Count

  1. Your idea will do the opposite of what you say. It will negate the vote and will if the people , and steal the election from the legislate victor. The electoral college insures that the most populous States do not control the process. You would just rubber stamp their votes.

  2. The tyranny of the majority never dies,
    I’m afraid. Sam is correct, of course, and will we ever tire of “feel good” politics?

  3. Hugh McCann Jr

    This blog post is silly.

    ______________________________________ Hugh F McCann Jr (c) 203-545-8857 hughmccannjr@gmail.com


  4. That’s like voting after the results are already in. Ridiculous – a perversion of an election process.

  5. Is your idea to split the electoral votes in CT by the popular results? Get away from winner take all?

    How would you handle the Senate? South Dakota gets the same amount of Senators as California or NY. Is that fair as you analyze the electoral college? The smaller states have the same amount of votes in the senate as larger states. Does that also need the be changed?

    Was all this instituted to stop the larger states from controlling the country?

  6. This plan literally makes no sense. We don’t live in a direct democracy, we live in a representative republic. There is, among other things, the little matter of something called state’s rights.

  7. The current system gives low-population states a disproportionately stronger voice in electing the president. For example, 1 Wyoming vote equals 3.6 California votes. Additionally, states with split Republican/Democratic populations get most of the campaign focus given the “winner take all” electoral college design. The purest system would be a popular vote: one person, one vote. Unfortunately, presidential candidates would then most certainly focus their attentions on dense population centers, virtually ignoring the heartland of America. That’s why there’s no simple answer. It’s also why the Senate was designed to givie every state an equal vote regardless of population size. The electoral college, as imperfect as it is, is a balance of sorts.

    • Avi-I feel my vote does not count in CT as long as it is ‘winner take all’. Why is that? Why is the electoral votes in CT not divided by the percentage votes for each candidate. Then my vote counts.

      • You’re right Bart. As a Republican your vote doesn’t currently count in Connecticut for the presidential ticket. Similarly a Democrat’s vote in Texas wouldn’t count. That’s why candidates focus on the swing states. If electors voted by % vote within their states, that would be equivalent to a popular vote.

        • Avi. I am not sure if electoral votes would be split by the popular vote it would basically equate to a ‘popular’ vote. How many people stay home and do not vote in states like CT where their vote does not matter? Would a Presidntial election get more than 50% of the population to vote? Also, the electoral
          College could soften the popular vote as places
          Like CA would not give 100% of their large electoral college to one candidate.

          It would be a great math exercise.

  8. Michael Calise

    When will the sore losers go away?

  9. Not to nit pick, but the margin was almost the same as the margin the Dems won in CA. The CA vote contains almost all of the popular margin difference. So – Pres of CA?

  10. Michael Calise

    Dan, Take away the margin in LA and Chicago and the popular vote is reversed. Do you want the voters of any two cities running the country?
    As far as I am concerned the electoral college Is a brilliant process and it is probably the one concept that has kept our country going for over two centuries.

    • An interesting perspective — and certainly valid. The counter-argument, Michael and Mary, is, The election was decided by 77,000 voters in 3 Midwestern states. Do you want those voters running the country?

      No easy answer, to be sure. It’s a complex issue.

      Kind of like health care.

      • Michael Calise

        We are 51 separate and distinct voting entities with each bringing to our political union a vote count which is already based on population but which gives each entity a stake in the process. Sometimes you win and sometime you lose but the Republic continues for the good of all. History speaks for itself!

      • Dan,

        Your question about those 3 states is exactly why the electoral college is the fairest representation of the country as a whole. But if I had to choose between those three states and the other two cities, I think I’d go with the former.

        • And if I had to choose — based on what we’ve got — I’d go with the latter! So I guess our votes cancel each other out…

          • Ha! Good points all. But, using your same example… under the present rules, all the votes in both the former and the latter places count. Under NPV, the impact of the votes in the former would be eliminated forever – not what the Founding Fathers had in mind and not fair to an entire block of voters who would be permanently marginalized just because of where they live. See my Westport/Bridgeport scenario below – everyone’s vote would count no matter where they lived – but the Westport votes would never be meaningfully impactful. Westport would have no representation.

  11. Here is a practical example of what the NPV movement would do: What if only Bridgeport and Westport votes counted in local elections, with the majority of combined votes forcing both Westport’s and Bridgeport’s respective State Representatives to cast their votes in Hartford the way the combined majority of voters voted on a particular issue. Westport’s population is about 27,000; Bridgeport’s population is about 140,000. Bridgeport would win the popular vote every time. Westport would lose its unique representation at the state level and eventually, Westport would be no more. The Founding Fathers had no idea there would be a California or a good number of mega-cities when they created the Electoral College system, but they did understand the danger of simple majority rule Presidential elections – the only elections that encompass the entire nation. They knew that a Democratic Republic would survive intact far longer than a pure Democracy. NPV would render all but the largest population centers irrelevant to candidates and national leaders. It’s a dangerous idea.

    • Jerald Lentini

      Sal, the problem there is that you’re not actually doing the math. The large population centers by themselves don’t have the votes to elect a President in a nation the size of ours. So while your concern makes sense in theory, it doesn’t actually hold water in practice, since it can’t work as a strategy (ignoring, of course, that campaigns wouldn’t go where the most people are but instead where the most people can be reached for the least amount of money – that’s not going to be expensive markets like NYC, LA, Houston, Miami or DC, but places where ad rates are low). Though, frankly, I’m not sure why I should be more upset about voters living in CA, TX, NY and FL getting more attention than we do, when right now it’s voters in OH, PA, MI and IA who do. At least under NPV our votes aren’t taken for granted, because even Republicans in Connecticut, like Democrats in Wyoming, would have some influence on the outcome.

      • Jerald, Thanks for your reply. I would warn you about using the data on the NPV website where they use a very technical and narrow measure of the population of our largest 50 cities. NPV claims only 15% of the population lives within the boundaries of the top 50 cities, which is technically correct, but is really quite deceptive. The math works if you look at the population of the largest Metropolitan Areas in the country (http://www.iweblists.com/us/population/MetropolitanStatisticalAreaPop.html) which clearly shows that the population of the top fifty metro areas from New York (#1) through Raleigh-Cary (#50) is over 160 million people, or almost exactly half of the current U.S. population. I believe all of us will have better representation if we adjust the Electoral College process state-by-state by lobbying individual states to award their Electors pro-rata according to the percentage of popular votes garnered by each candidate. The adjustment proposed by the NPV movement is asking the states to use their individual right to determine how to cast their Electoral Votes by usurping their individual rights to the most densely populated areas of the nation. It would be crazy to use our sovereign rights to give up our sovereign rights. I defer back to my own Westport/Bridgeport example of what will really happen under NPV as proposed. Awarding 100% of electors by winner-take-all rules will disenfranchise a huge number of voters just because of where they live, which is not healthy for the long-term success of any State or Nation.

  12. To all doubters, please come to the Public Forum on Thursday night (but do RSVP at boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org) and listen to all sides of the issue. You may be surprised to find out that the Constitution (in Article 2, Section 1) gives the responsibility to each State as to how their electors will be instructed to vote. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact takes its premise from that section of the Constitution (http://www.nationalpopularvote.com). Please come to the fact-based forum on Thursday night but before you do, close your eyes. Imagine this country border to border, coast to coast. No state lines, no boundaries. Just a country filled with individuals who want to vote for their President. It’s not about where you live or where you vote. You are one person with one vote whether you live in Connecticut or New Mexico or Nebraska or California. Your vote will count one time no matter where you live. That is all there is to it.

  13. Jerald Lentini

    Thinking that campaigns would spend all their time and money in the densest areas shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how campaigns are run. First, there aren’t nearly enough voters in those dense areas to win a national election. Second, campaigns look for votes per dollar, and campaigning in the most heavily populated areas is more expensive than in mid-size and smaller markets: it’s the same reason why they don’t only advertise on the most popular web sites or the most-watched television shows. Meanwhile, literally no campaigning for President is being done in Connecticut under the current system, leaving our voters unheard and our issues ignored – how is that any better?

  14. Before we move to change (or adjust) the Electoral College; take a look at the process of “selecting’ our presidential candidates. The primary system that we have in place is wildly inconsistent. Some states apportion their convention delegates via winner take all, others proportionally, and some have local caucuses, and what about those ‘super delegates’ ?Additionally, there’s the argument re: when and how to schedule each state’s primary or should we have one national primary day? If the primary process were straight forward, HRC would probably not have even been nominated in 2016.

  15. somebody needs to read the Federalist Papers. Number 68 would be a good start.

    • Ah, finally a reference to the Federalist Papers – and note that #68 was authored by Hamilton. Yeah, the one most folks know about thanks to a Broadway play.

      A word to the party who is [obviously] behind this “abolish the electoral college” movement (because the most recent election failed to produce the president they favor) – this is a “protecting the small, less populous states from the tyranny of the big heavily populated states” matter, and NOT a protect the Democrats from the Republicans matter – the electoral college is party and ideologically neutral. It is unwise to be so short-sighted about a valuable constitutional design.

      Point being that it can just as easily work for your benefit the next time, so be careful what you wish for, and consider the protection you seek to unwind. Look no further than the Democrats’ decision to use the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules in November 2013 to effectively eliminate the use of the filibuster against all executive branch nominees and judicial nominees (other than to the Supreme Court). The Senate voted 52–48, with all Republicans and 3 Democrats voting against the measure, and at the time the Republicans, and a few Democrats, warned about how that move could easily bite the Democrats in the rear end in the future. And now the Democrats sit and watch nearly all of Trump’s cabinet and other executive nominees go whooshing on through the Senate approval process . . .

  16. Steven Brams of NYU has been advocating change in USA election-vote format for decades, (he was considered brainchild of Kennedy Administration at one point); if you look at his syllabus and bio you see books, papers, abstracts, letters to editors, etc. – all well peer reviewed – that represents each of your valid arguments and counter arguments. Trump would likely support some change in format (he and 1st wife made use of Brams game theory models, or at least their attorneys did and Ivana’s especially 😉 But it’s totally unlikely Republican Party and DNP would allow it for obv reasons, i.e., improvement to vote format always allows 3rd & 4th party candidates which they hate 😉 Susan Farley

  17. I strongly suggest to anyone who opposes the National Popular Vote, to make sure you get your facts straight and watch this video:

    • Here is a fact; we are not a Democracy, we are a republic.

      • The statement, “We are a not a democracy, we’re a republic” misunderstands what is meant by republic. Definition here: http://www.conservapedia.com/Constitutional_Republic Key point: “A Constitutional Republic is a state where the officials are elected as representatives of the people, and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government’s power over citizens.”
        We are not a democracy in the sense that all 300MM don’t show up in DC to vote, we have representatives. The NPV Compact doesn’t change that.

    • Sal Gilbertie

      For those wanting both sides of the story before Thursday’s discussions, here is the exact opposite view in a similar length video:

  18. Agreeing with Jack Krayson’s comment on a national primary day. It has always bothered me that by the time Connecticut’s and other states’ primaries come around, the candidates have essentially already been decided by other states, many months before. And I still can’t believe there isn’t a national system to vote in primaries — still blown away by the concept of a caucus.

    Really, why CAN’T there by one agreed-upon day when we all vote to nominate our two (or more) presidential candidates by a central format, and then the winners can get on to the business of educating the country on their views, ideas and policy, instead of spending most of the time bashing the other same-party candidates in an endless primary cycle?

    In this day and age, with endless useless debates that quickly devolve into spectacle; social media; and competing news outlets, it’s impossible to talk about real issues and learn anything substantive. But if candidates were decided early, then they be forced to do and say something of substance over a longer period of time.

    I’m sure there are a million reasons why this won’t work (individual states being in charge of their voting procedures, other things I’m not aware of) and I’m sure commenters will quickly let me know, but thought I’d put it out there.

    Unfortunately I can’t attend the public forum on 3/2; I’m sure it will be really interesting and informative. But a big congratulations to Nicole Klein for taking on voting and election issues.

  19. Our right to vote is somewhat diminished by poor voter turnout. In 2016, voter turnout in CT was around 65% with highest turnout in Maine and Colorado around 72%.
    Perhaps we could learn from our friends in Australia which requires mandatory voter registration and every voter to show up at their polling place to have their name checked off. Failure to show up results in a small fine.
    Once at the polling place, the voter has the option to vote or not.
    Turnout averages 94%

  20. Dan, who is ‘s e’ bogging down the posts?

    • All of his (or her) comments have been removed. Sorry I was out tonight, and didn’t see these earlier. A reminder: All commenters must use full, real names.

  21. Andrew Colabella

    The electoral college has worked well since it was created and utilized. No one cried to take it away in 2008 or 2012. All of the sudden it needs to be dismantled.

    The majority of popular votes are found in Los Angeles, Miami and New England area (popular vote) where the states have higher electoral votes and pretty much outweigh middle states that are swing states and can go in any direction.

    Obviously, people are crying out for this move after Trump was elected. Whether you like him or not, hate the system, etc. he’s your president, give him a chance. He hasn’t taken anyone’s rights away or further segregate Americans. We do that to ourselves with listening to the media that doesn’t challenge us, but instead tell us what they want to tell us, which distorts facts and the truth.

  22. Rozanne Gates

    Dear Andrew Colabella – you are woefully undereducated and misinformed. You really need to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k. And by the way, The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact initiative began in 2001. The majority of popular votes are not found in the places you mentioned. You really need to view the film I have her with attached.

  23. Jack Whittle

    Alllllllmost made it to 42 posts before the “you don’t know what you are talking about” stuff started – that’s pretty damn good, especially in these emotionally-charged times. Always room for improvement though

  24. I finally watched the video. It actually is compelling! But… remember what it takes to amend the Constitution: an amendment must be proposed by a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress and ratified by 3/4 of the States. Therefore… it will not happen since the lower population states would never agree to it. Literally 700 proposals to reform or eliminate the Electoral College have failed. IMHO, the only way to change is to go state by state, and lobby each state to change its laws. Only two states currently divide their votes by % won by each candidate. As difficult as the idea is to implement, the more states move to proportional delegate designation, the closer we get to a popular vote.