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Purple Mountain Politics

Colorado Democrats want presidential elections decided by popular vote

DENVER – Democratic lawmakers want to add Colorado to a list of states bent on determining presidential elections on popular votes alone.

Senate Bill 042, among the more unusual floating around the Capitol this month, would add Colorado to a list of 11 states and the District of Columbia that want to ditch the Electoral College. Presidents are elected by popular vote as well as the Electoral College, which is a group of people selected to represent a state. Each state has a certain number of electors who represent the overall population – Colorado has nine electoral votes. If made into law, the bill would automatically grant those nine votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote.

The Senate approved the bill this week on a 19-16 vote, and it now heads to the House for a vote.

The bill is an effort to upset victories like President Donald Trump’s in 2016, when he won the presidency through electoral votes but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College gives power to a few so-called “battleground states” to determine presidential elections, something that Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, SB 042’s sponsor, would like to end. If enough states join the effort, a candidate will not be able to win a presidency based on the Electoral College.

But even if the House approves it, the bill remains a nominal political gesture until more states pledge their electoral votes. For Colorado’s and other state’s electors to be awarded to the winner of the popular vote, the states must gather 270 electors – but they have only 172, which is 98 short (not counting Colorado’s nine electors.)

All of the 16 votes against the bill were cast by Republican senators, including Sen. Don Coram of Montrose.

rhandy@durangoherald.com

Aug 3, 2021
Colorado Legislature OKs changes to presidential electors