Electoral nonsense

Some bad ideas refuse to die, no matter how illogical.

Take the notion that giving up Colorado’s independent status with respect the to presidential Electoral College will somehow make the votes of Coloradans count more.

Proposals to do that have surfaced and have been shot down in the state Legislature over the past few years. Another version, House Bill 1299, has been introduced this year. It passed out of the House Judiciary Committee this week.

As most people are aware, we don’t have a popular vote for president in this country. We have a state-by-state vote. And, in all but a couple states, whichever candidates wins the majority of the state votes gets all of that state’s electoral votes.

Colorado currently has nine Electoral College votes, a relatively small number compared to large states like California, New York, Florida or Texas. But even a small number can be critical in determining the outcome of an election. That’s why Barack Obama and John McCain made multiple visits to Colorado last year.

But some members of the state Legislature, along with politicians around the country, have long hated the Electoral College. They want a popular vote to elect the president. However, since they know it would be difficult to pass a constitutional amendment to make that happen, they’ve come up with a different plan to make the Electoral College essentially meaningless.

HB 1299 would designate all of Colorado’s Electoral College votes for whichever candidate wins the popular vote nationwide, regardless of how the majority of Coloradans voted. It would only take effect if a sufficient number of other states adopted identical legislation

The idea is allegedly “to make every vote count,” according to supporters. But exactly the opposite can occur with this plan. As Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs noted, it could very well mean that Coloradans who worked hard for a particular candidate — and enabled that candidate win a strong majority of votes in this state — could see all of the state’s Electoral
College votes cast for the opposing candidate because he or she won more of the popular vote in other states.

Furthermore, there would be little incentive for candidates to visit mid-sized states like Colorado. If they knew they had only to win the popular vote, they would concentrate their efforts in states with the most voters — places like California and Florida.

We can only hope that sensible state legislators will put a stake through HB 1299 and keep this proposal off Colorado’s books.


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