The two sides of a ballot measure on whether Colorado should be in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.
Proponents of Proposition 113 say being in the compact to choose presidents by popular vote rather than through the Electoral College would ensure that every vote counts.
Opponents, however, say that Colorado voters would only be giving up their vote for president to more populated states that are in the compact, principally in the big cities of California and New York.
“Giving our nine Electoral College votes to a whole group of other people to decide for Colorado makes no sense,” said Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese.
“Fundamentally, the current system offers checks and balances,” added former House Speaker Frank McNulty, a Highlands Ranch Republican who is working with the Protect Colorado’s Vote campaign against it. “It allows states to decide who gets their Electoral College votes, and for Colorado that matters.”
All this started during last year’s session of the Colorado Legislature, when lawmakers passed SB42. That bill added Colorado to the compact, which calls for all states that sign on to dedicate all their Electoral College votes to whomever wins the popular vote for president in all 50 states.
Currently, the effort only has 14 states in it that combine for a total of 196 electoral votes. The compact doesn’t go into effect unless there are enough states that sign onto it, totaling at least 270 votes, the minimum number needed to become president.
It was Pugliese and Monument Mayor Don Wilson who led the petition drive to get the measure onto the ballot, which basically calls for reversing SB42.
Proponents, however, say the current system actually disenfranchises people who are in the minority party in their states.
“Right now, we have a situation where in most states, 48 out of 50 that have a winner-take-all system, they toss aside or basically throw out the number of people who vote for president who happen to be in the minority in that state,” said Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, who introduced the bill that put Colorado into the compact.
“The way that we have in front of us that can ensure one person equals one vote in a presidential campaign is the national popular vote,” Foote added. “One person, one vote is something that applies to every other election that we have. When we vote for your state legislator, your county commissioner, your governor and any other race in Colorado, your vote is counted toward the grand total. But because of the way the Electoral College vote is set up currently, the one person, one vote concept does not apply.”
The Electoral College, which was established in the U.S. Constitution in 1789, gives each state votes based on the number of the members each have in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. For Colorado, that’s nine, but is expected to go to 10 after the U.S. Census is completed.
The U.S. Constitution allows states to determine how their electoral votes are cast. As a result, 48 states have opted for a winner-take-all system, meaning that all of their electoral votes go to whomever wins the popular vote for president in each state.
Only two states, Nebraska and Maine, have different systems. There, the two Electoral College votes — representing their two U.S. senators — are based on statewide majority votes, while their remaining electoral votes — representing their representatives — are based on winners in each of their congressional districts.