With passage in both chambers of the state legislature, when Gov. Polis signs the bill, Colorado is set to change how it elects the President. SB19-042 passed its penultimate hurdle last Thursday, a vote in the Colorado House of Representatives.
If signed, the law would enter Colorado into a compact with eleven other states, including California, Massachusetts, and New York, and the District of Colombia, where their electors for President will be awarded in the Electoral College based on popular vote.
What does this mean?
Currently, when you vote for president (like you should), your vote doesn’t go directly for your candidate. It goes to a body of electors, officials appointed by the individual states, who then vote in the Electoral College for President. Colorado has nine electors, and there’s currently 538 total. In theory, electors vote on your behalf. However, the Constitution doesn’t mandate that electors vote exactly with the state’s population, only that the states have the power to award electoral votes as they see fit.
This bill has been passed into law in eleven states and the District of Columbia. These states’ electors now will be compelled to vote in the Electoral College following the popular vote.
So why are we paying attention to this? Why are we talking about dry electoral reform?
A good reform measure to support. Change the Electoral College by having a state’s electoral votes go to the national popular vote winner – not the person who won the state. The candidate who gets the most votes – nationally – is elected. Real democracy. https://t.co/tPfNWdKQ46
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) February 26, 2019
With or without Gov. Polis’ signature, Colorado has taken a stand in the national conversation about the nature of our democracy at what feels like a prolonged crossroads for America.
Ever since the last election for president, the Electoral College has undergone a lot of scrutiny. Infamously, it was the fourth instance in the history of the United States where the winner of the Electoral College, the person elected president, wasn’t the candidate who had the most people vote for them. Movements for states to adopt a national popular vote gained steam in the aftermath. Fifteen states, including Colorado, have legislation to enter the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact awaiting debate or passage.
While this compact won’t make election results like 2016’s impossible, it will provide a certain safeguard against complications with electoral results. In a time when we’ve become accustomed to the climate of crisis in politics, we can’t ignore our state standing in favor of changing our flawed system.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons