Our View: Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 113
Last year, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill, later signed by Gov. Polis, to enter Colorado into the National Popular Interstate Compact. Opponents of that decision soon gathered enough voter signatures to place Proposition 113 on the November ballot, which gives Colorado voters the chance to weigh in and either endorse or reject that legislative decision. Such a challenge is unusual: it’s the first time since 1932 that Colorado voters have been asked to confirm or repeal a law.
If voters approve Proposition 113, Colorado will remain one of 15 states and the District of Columbia in the compact, which requires participating states to award all of their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who earns the majority of individual votes nationally. Currently, Colorado follows the Electoral College protocol in awarding its nine electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote within the state, not the nation. Proposition 113 sets the table for an outcome where Colorado voters’ majority choice for president does not receive the state’s Electoral College votes.
Even if Colorado voters approve Proposition 113 this November, the Interstate Compact will only go into effect when enough states possessing a majority of the 538 available presidential electors — 270 — are represented by compact members. Currently, the 15 states and District of Columbia in the Interstate Compact comprise only 196 electoral votes, meaning other states representing at least 74 electoral votes would need to enact legislation similar to Proposition 113 before it were to go into effect.
Proponents of Proposition 113 argue that Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to determine how its electors cast their ballots in a presidential election. The National Popular Vote compact would modify how the Electoral College functions, a move opponents suggest may trigger legal challenges and disruptions to the election process.
There are compelling arguments for and against Proposition 113.
At issue: Voters are being asked to consider Proposition 113, which would enter Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Our View: We are supportive of either reforming the mechanism by which Colorado allocates its Electoral College votes or moving to a national popular vote, but Proposition 113 is not the right approach because it puts Colorado voices at risk.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- George Danellis, community representative
- Kevin Fisher, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.
Proponents stress the “one person, one vote” principle, and that votes would count equally. They decry the current Electoral College system that prioritizes candidate visits to “swing states” at the expense of all states. They add that five presidents, including two since 2000, have been elected despite failing to get a majority vote nationally. Additionally, the ratio of residents to electors varies from state to state. That, they say, is proof the Electoral College does not effectively represent the will of the people.
Opponents suggest a National Popular Vote is driven by partisanship, and indeed, legislative support in Colorado was largely Democratic, and the states that have approved the Interstate Compact have mostly favored Democrats in recent presidential elections. Opponents also say Proposition 113 would erode the voice of Colorado voters because the state would be obligated to support the candidate who wins the national popular vote, even if that candidate lost in Colorado.
In our view:
- Every voter has a right to expect his or her vote to count. The Electoral College, while designed to protect the minority from the “tyranny of the majority,” does not reflect that.
- Every part of America deserves to have its unique concerns addressed by presidential candidates, not just those living in swing states whose political interests may have minimal importance to Coloradans.
- Partisan frustrations should not drive fundamental reform. What happens when political coalitions inevitably shift and what made sense in 2020 no longer reflects political sentiments in 2028 or 2036 or 2060?
We are supportive of reform and encourage Coloradans — and residents of other states considering the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact — to explore other options, which include:
- Amending the U.S. Constitution to adopt a federal-level national popular vote in lieu of the Electoral College.
- Tweaking the National Popular Vote concept to allocate electoral votes proportionally to a state’s popular vote. This would more directly reflect the “one person, one vote” mantra of the National Popular Vote, while still protecting the voices of voters within each state
Yes, these two alternatives are longshots. But we believe a solution worth voter support must be the best option given the importance of the issue. Half measures that could result in unintended consequences are not good enough.
In our view, voting “no” on Proposition 113 is what’s best for Colorado and the nation.
Publisher’s Note: Editor Lisa Schlichtman was unavailable to participate in this discussion or opinion.
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