Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a controversial bill Friday that would award Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationally, even if another candidate wins the state's vote.
The governor expressed his support for Senate Bill 42 before it cleared both chambers of the legislature last month, despite outcry from opponents and Republicans who asked him to veto the legislation.
The measure, proposed by Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, would only come into effect if enough states enact similar legislation to amount the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president. Already, 11 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted such legislation, totaling 172 electoral votes.
With Colorado, that total is upped to 181 electoral votes. Similar legislation was approved by Delaware's legislature and passed to the state's governor Thursday, Delaware Public Media reported.
Aside from Delaware, five other states are expected to adopt similar measures this year, though the total of 270 electoral votes isn’t expected to be reached before the 2020 presidential election.
The measure has been attacked by Republicans, many of whom see it as a response to the election of President Trump, a Republican, in the Electoral College despite losing the national popular vote by near 3 million ballots to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
While Clinton won large popular-vote majorities in big, urban states like California, New York and Illinois, Trump won majorities in more states, giving him 306 electoral votes to Clinton's 232.
Opponents -- including including Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs -- argue the measure abdicates the power of Coloradans’ individual votes and would allow the country’s major urban areas -- which often lean Democratic -- to control each election.
The bill also has been criticized as altering a system of electing presidents that has brought the nation politics stability for centuries.
In a joint statement, Foote and the measure's House sponsors -- Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, and Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver -- said they were pleased Polis signed the measure.
"We are well on our way to giving each person in Colorado and throughout our country an equal vote – no matter where they live – in every presidential election, if enough states sign on to the compact," they said. "Equal representation is not a red or blue issue – it is a way to ensure every American and every Coloradan has an equal say about who leads our country. We are proud that Colorado has joined the compact.”
While state Republican officials failed to block or substantially delay the measure, Monument’s mayor and a Mesa County commissioner are just getting started.
Mayor Don Wilson and Commissioner Rose Pugliese said last month they are seeking to petition an issue onto the state’s 2020 ballot. If that petition effort is successful it would halt the implementation of SB 42, pending the results of a statewide referendum.
Wilson and Pugliese must collect about 125,000 signatures to earn a spot on the 2020 ballot and their signature gathering effort could not begin until Polis signed the bill into law.
Next, the Secretary of State’s Office must certify their petition language. Then Wilson and Pugliese they’ll have 90 days after the General Assembly’s adjournment to submit those signatures.
Neither Wilson nor Pugliese could be immediately reached for comment.
"The national popular vote law unconstitutionally gives away every Coloradan's presidential vote to large states like New York and California," said Jeff Hays, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, in a statement. He said the state GOP "will fight to put this arrogant law on the ballot and ensure Colorado voters have a say before we allow Democrats to give away our presidential votes."