Colorado Republicans are calling for all hands on deck to testify against a seemingly inevitable bill that would pledge all of Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote.
The Senate approved the bill, proposed by state Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, in late January, passing the measure to the House where it’s sponsored by Reps. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, and Emily Sirota, D-Denver.
The House Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs will hear the measure Tuesday.
It’s in that committee that the opposition can help, Jeff Hays, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, said in a release.
Foote’s bill undermines the federalist principles within the U.S. Constitution, Hays said. And with Gov. Jared Polis’ support, the committee hearing is “our last chance to protect the Constitution from the Colorado Democrats.”
The measure - which is an agreement between the state legislatures that vote to join - didn’t used to be so partisan, however, Foote previously told Colorado Politics.
Already 11 states have joined the agreement and about a third of the supporting legislators in those states were Republicans, he said.
But many Republicans have taken the agreement as a sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election. He, like former President George W. Bush in 2000, won the 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency, but lost the national popular vote.
Hays and other opponents of the measure say the agreement is unconstitutional, could splinter an already-fractured country and would lessen the value of Colorado’s votes.
One specific issue is that if Coloradans vote for one candidate but another wins the national popular vote, that second candidate - for which Coloradans did not vote - would still receive the state’s electoral votes. Using the national popular vote would effectively allow presidential candidates to wield the country’s largely-Democratic urban areas while ignoring the rural areas, they say.
But questions of constitutionality are unfounded, Foote said. And he argues that if a candidate were to solely focus on major urban centers, they would lose.
Instead, the measure is meant to encourage candidates to spread beyond those big cities and should boost voter turnout, he said. Using the national popular vote allows each vote to be counted equally no matter from where it is cast, he said.
The committee hearing will begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 271 inside the Capitol, 200 E. 14th Ave.
“How long the committee goes will depend on how many people show up to testify,” Hays said.