Initiative would alter presidential vote count
By KYLE HENLEY - THE GAZETTE
DENVER - A citizen initiative to reform how Colorado votes in presidential elections could affect who sits in the White House next year.
If it had been in effect four years ago, President Al Gore might be seeking re-election.
A citizens’ group submitted 130,000 signatures Friday to the Secretary of State’s Office to put an initiative on the ballot that would alter the way Colorado allocates Electoral College votes in presidential contests.
Instead of winner-take-all, the votes would be awarded proportionately.
The measure, called the Colorado Electoral College Reform Initiative, would put Colorado on the leading edge of U.S. election reform.
The Electoral College, rather than the popular vote, is what determines presidential races.
Each state receives a set number of electoral votes based on the size of its congressional delegation. Colorado has nine Electoral College votes.
Colorado is one of 48 winner-take-all states.
President Bush won 51 percent of the vote here in 2000 and walked away with the state’s Electoral College votes.
“Proportional representation is a more democratic method of selecting electors and provides a truer portrait of Colorado’s political composition,” campaign manager Rick Ridder said.
If the proposed change had been in effect for the 2000 election, when eight votes were at stake, Bush would have received five of Colorado’s Electoral College votes and Gore would have picked up three.
Gore would have won the national election with 269 electoral votes to Bush’s 268. Bush won 271-266.
Maine and Nebraska split Electoral College delegates, although in a different manner than is proposed in Colorado. In those states, the presidential winner in each congressional district gets an electoral vote.
Backers of the measure want it to have an impact quickly.
If the measure passes, it would go into effect immediately and be in play in the race between President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
“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.”
About 68,000 signatures from valid Colorado voters are needed to put an initiative on the statewide ballot.
Election officials will spend the next few weeks verifying signatures to see whether the measure will earn a spot on the November ballot.
The Colorado Republican Party will lead the opposition if the initiative makes the ballot. The GOP, which has a registration advantage in Colorado, usually carries the day.
If the proposal takes effect, presidential candidates won’t bother to campaign in Colorado because they’ll be assured a mixed result in the state, Gov. Bill Owens said.
“If that passes, Colorado will cease to be a factor in the presidential campaigns of the future,” Owens said. “If we do this . . . we simply have given up the leverage we have as a relatively small state.”
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