Colorado Is One Step Closer To Changing The Way It Votes For Presidents

Originally published on February 13, 2019 10:26 am

Longmont resident Ingrid Moore went to the state Capitol on Tuesday carrying a stack of maps she said illustrates why Colorado should change the way it chooses U.S. presidents.

"Over 57 percent of all the 2016 campaign events were held in just four states," she said as lawmakers on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee reviewed the map. "Virtually all campaign events ... were held in just 12 states. And those 12 states just have 30 percent of the population."

Moore said the current system isn't fair.

"Presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to voters' concerns in safe states that are either solid red or solid blue," she said.

Democratic state lawmakers are making the same argument as they advance a bill to have Colorado join what's known as the National Popular Vote Compact.

The compact is a group of 11 states that want to award their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide.

The change won't take effect until there are enough states in the group to award a presidential contender the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency.

Supporters of the movement say it would force presidential candidates to mount nationwide campaigns instead of just spending their time in a handful of battleground states.

But the dozens of people who showed up to testify against the bill on Tuesday voiced a number of concerns about the change.

Lynn Spence said it would hurt rural voters and give more power to states with higher populations.

"We cannot let California and New York control our elections," she told the committee.

Another opponent of the bill said there isn't an official popular vote count after an election because the figure is just compiled by media organizations.

The effort to have Colorado award its electoral votes based on the popular vote has packed hearing rooms at the Capitol this session.

Lawmakers listened to more than four hours of testimony Tuesday evening.

And in the end, the bill was advanced on another party line vote, with the six Democrats on the committee overpowering the three Republicans.

Republican lawmakers tried to stop the bill with several amendments.

They tried unsuccessfully to force Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to testify and answer questions about the legality of the bill.

A proposal to send the question to voters was also defeated by the Democrats.

The bill already passed out of the Senate earlier this month.

It now goes to the House floor for debate.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Eleven public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

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