Amendment 36 |

Amendment 36

Amendment 36 proposes eliminating the state’s winner-take-all system of casting presidential electoral votes. If the amendment is adopted, Colorado would become the first state to apportion its nine electoral votes according to the results of the popular vote.

Maine and Nebraska have split electoral votes according to how candidates fare in voting within individual congressional districts.

In the wake of the 2000 Gore-Bush Electoral College decision ” which was made by the Supreme Court ” this measure is sure to spark partisan controversy.

An early indication of how controversial this measure is may be gained from the name being adopted by one of the groups opposing it: “Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea.”

Opponents say the matter will create less representation, not more, because it will be challenged in court thus leaving the decision to the justices, not the voters.

Proponents say it’s a good idea to have the electoral vote represent the state’s vote. Had the measure been in place in the 2002 election, it would have landed Al Gore in the presidency.

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Local Democratic and Republican party representatives are divided ” some even among their own ranks ” about a statewide citizen’s initiative that would change how Electoral College votes are allocated to congressional delegates.

A citizen group called People’s Choice for President submitted 130,000 signatures to the Secretary of State office this summer; those signatures are being validated.

The issue came to a head after President Bush won the 2000 presidential election, even though he didn’t receive the majority of the popular vote nationwide. Citizen initiative 99 would change the way Electoral College votes are counted to more accurately reflect the preference of voters in the state.

The number of Electoral College votes each state has is dependent on the state’s number of congressional delegates. Colorado has nine electoral votes.

Colorado is one of 48 states where, despite how many popular votes are cast for any given candidate, the winner gets all the Electoral College votes. Nebraska and Maine divide their votes depending on the outcome of the popular vote in their states. The presidential winner in each congressional district gets an electoral vote.

Using the 2000 election as an example, Bush would have received five Electoral College votes and Al Gore would have garnered the other three (at the time, Colorado had eight Electoral College votes).

Colorado State Sen. Ron Tupa presented a similar measure in the last General Assembly. It passed in the Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives along party lines.

Locally, neither party has had a chance to discuss the initiative, but they’re not without opinions.

“I would be opposed to it,” said Harley Williams, a Republican from Keystone. “I think we need to stick with the original intent of the people who drew up the Constitution. The Electoral College is an important part of it.”

Another argument against the change is that by giving the winning candidate all nine electoral votes, smaller populated states ” Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota and New Mexico among them ” get more clout.

“You start splitting votes, and you dilute our impact as a state,” said County Commissioner Tom Long, a Republican who is, himself, split on the issue. “My concern would be that all the other states do it. The Electoral College is a national thing and it’s a debate we should have as a nation, not as a state.”

Democrat Marie Roberts would also like to see it implemented on a national scale, but she doesn’t buy the argument that such a system would dilute the state’s impact at the national level.

“Who cares about that?” Roberts said. “That’s ridiculous. What we care about is getting a good president.”

Marty Ferris, chair of the Republican party, said she believes the Electoral College should be left alone.

Democratic chair Sandy Briggs likes the idea.

“The electoral vote has to have some relation to the popular vote rather than winner take all,” he said. “We have to have some semblance of a democracy that’s not dependent on a system that was devised a long time ago.”

“Owens’ argument that we wouldn’t be taken seriously if we divide our nine electoral votes, I think he has a point,” said George Sherman, the former Democratic party chair. “Except in the overall scheme of things, nine isn’t any more important than, say five, for instance ” except in a really close election.

“On the other hand, it would be much more democratic and represent how people really vote,” he added. “There’s a certain inequity built into this system we have.”

How soon the initiative would go into effect is another unknown. Supporters want it to be in effect for the November election.

“When something needs correction, why would you wait until four more years for it to go into effect?” said campaign spokeswoman Julie Brown. “We believe this needs fixing now.”

” Jane Stebbins

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