Colorado Could Become First Non-Blue State To Say Yes To National Popular Vote Idea

At least one state in our region is poised to join the movement to change how we vote for our president. Colorado’s Governor, Jared Polis, is expected to sign legislation soon.

The bill says Colorado would agree to cast all of its electoral votes in a presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote. The switch would only go into effect if enough states pass similar legislation reaching a total of 270 electoral college votes. 11 states and the District of Columbia have signed national popular vote bills into law so far. But even with Colorado’s passage, the movement will still be 89 votes short.

CU Boulder law professor, Craig Konnoth, said Colorado’s move is significant for the national popular vote movement. It has been gaining momentum since the early 2000s when George W. Bush won the presidency without the popular vote.

“In 42 states, this legislation has passed at least one chamber,” said Konnoth. “But Colorado is the first non-blue state in which this legislation is going actually to become law.”

He said this is probably because Colorado is a historically purple state and is currently controlled by Democrats. A majority of Americans do believe the president should be elected by a pure majority of votes.

Konnoth said this probably doesn’t mean we’re going to see the national popular vote reign supreme anytime soon. He said the electoral college system has favored Republican candidates in recent history and there just aren’t enough states that are consistently blue to turn the tide.

But James Gardner has a different take. Gardner is an expert in constitutional and election law at the University of Buffalo School of Law. He said blue states alone wouldn’t be enough to enact the change. But he said, “It seems like the trend has been seeping across the partisan divide.”

He pointed to Arizona’s Republican controlled House of Representatives which passed this legislation. And he said the Oklahoma senate which is majority Republican also voted for it.

The Idaho legislature currently has a national popular vote bill in motion. Utah considered one last year but it failed.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.