A group of Kiowa County residents are protesting the recent passage and signing into law of SB 19-042 that changes how Colorado’s nine electoral votes are cast in a presidential election. The protest is taking the form of gathering enough valid signatures on petitions to demand the legislation appear on the general ballot in 2020, thereby suspending the bill becoming law until after the 2020 election when Colorado voters would decide.
As has been the practice in all but two states, Colorado’s electoral votes have gone to the presidential candidate and the vice presidential candidate who win the most votes in the state. Senate Bill 19-042, commonly known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, changes that process such that those electoral votes will go to the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who win the popular vote at the national level.
SB 19-042 does not go into effect until a sufficient number of states have passed similar bills such that the minimum 270 electoral votes can be achieved. With its passage, Colorado now joins 11 other states and the District of Columbia that have passed the measure, which, together, represent a total of 181 electoral votes.
Opponents of the National Popular Vote feel that the Electoral College allows states with smaller populations, like Colorado, to have more of an equal say in determining the winner of presidential elections. They believe this was the purpose of the founding fathers’ decision to include the Electoral College in the Constitution.
Cindy Williams, one of the individuals collecting signatures, made the following statement: “Politicians in Denver voted to give our votes for president to states like California, New York, Florida and Illinois. That’s wrong. We have to stop them from giving our votes away and our voice. And here’s how we stop them from giving away our votes and our voice. Sign the petition to stop Colorado from giving away our electoral votes.”
In contrast, proponents of the bill feel that conditions that created the Electoral Vote no longer exist, and electing by National Popular Vote assures that each vote has equal value, making it more reflective of a democracy.
Similar petitions are being circulated in at least several parts of the state, and a total of 125,000 valid signatures will be required to get the measure on the ballot. This is an increase of 25% over the amount needed from 2015-2018.
The reason for the increase relates to voter turnout in the last election, specifically the number of votes that were cast for Secretary of State. In order to get on the ballot, valid signatures equaling 5% of the votes cast are required. Voter turnout in Colorado in the 2018 was the second highest in the nation, which is a great thing for the state but makes getting enough signatures more of a challenge. Also, individuals and groups collecting signatures often aim to submit twice as many signatures as the number required to allow for those signatures that may not be deemed valid.
Cindy Williams and other individuals opposing the National Popular Vote will be gathering signatures at the Hometown Gas and Grill on Monday, April 8th from 10am to 2pm.