DENVER (CBS4) – Coloradans trying to repeal a new law, that changes how the state elects the President, turned in a record number of signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Opponents of the National Popular Vote say they gathered nearly 230,000 signatures – 100,000 more than they needed.
Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese says Democrats, Republicans and Unaffiliated voters signed the petition.
“Lines wrapped around buildings for people to sign. Those first couple of weeks, we would have events and run out of petition packets and literally had to send people away,” said Pugliese.
Until now, Colorado – and most states – have awarded all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state. The new law would award Colorado’s electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide.
“We want Colorado to be separate from California, New York, other cities,” says Monument Mayor Don Wilson. “And one thing the Electoral College protects us from is those major population areas governing over the smaller states.”
Wilson says Coloradans shouldn’t have to give their electoral votes to someone who didn’t win Colorado. Ruth Stemler with League of Women Voters of Colorado says the person who wins the most votes overall should win the election.
“When it’s one-person one-vote, politicians will have to campaign all over the country with every voter and they won’t just be sticking with the swing states which they do now,” said Stemler.
The new law doesn’t take effect until enough states with a combined 270 electoral votes join Colorado. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia are in, totaling 196 electoral votes.
Even if the law isn’t overturned, there will likely be legal challenges if states try to implement it. Opponents claim the bill is unconstitutional because it involves a group of states entering into a compact without Congress approval.
Debate over the Electoral College isn’t new, but it exploded after Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and President Trump won the Electoral College.
“We really think National Popular Vote is better for our democracy,” says Stemler. “We are all Americans and we would work together to vote.”
While the issue was partisan at Colorado’s state legislature, Democratic lawmakers voted for the new law and Republicans against it, that hasn’t been the case in other states. Nevada’s Democratic governor, for example, vetoed a similar bill.
“The system isn’t broken in Colorado,” says Pugliese. “And those are Coloradans voting in Colorado for our choice.”