Colorado Common Cause and the League of Women Voters Colorado have teamed to combat the repeal of Senate Bill 42, the law on the National Popular Vote.
The campaign kicked off with an event at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Stoney's on Lincoln Street in Denver, featuring Democratic state Sen. Mike Foote of Lafayette, one of the sponsors of SB42, and Patrick Rosenstiel, who works for the national group Yes on National Popular Vote.
Opponents of the National Popular Vote turned in enough valid signatures last week to qualify for the 2020 general election ballot.
National Popular Vote is a movement to assign Electoral College votes in a presidential election to the candidate who wins the popular vote. Colorado law, before the National Popular Vote passed, assigned the state's seven Electoral College votes to the winner of the state's popular vote.
In 2016, that was Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lost the Electoral College vote to now-President Donald Trump, though she won the popular vote by about 3 million ballots. The same took place in 2000, when Republican George W. Bush beat Democrat Al Gore; Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College.
Amanda Gonzalez of Colorado Common Cause said Thursday's event is part of a longer campaign that will run through next year to fight the repeal. They decided to do an event now because "the issue is on people's radar," she said.
In a statement, Gonzalez said "there’s something seriously wrong with our presidential elections" when in two of the past five, the candidate with fewer votes won the race.
"Candidates spend the majority of their time and resources in a handful of battleground states. And voters in the rest of the country feel like their vote doesn’t matter at all. The time has come to FIX the broken Electoral College. AND… there’s a solution, one that has already been adopted by Colorado’s Legislature, spreading like wildfire: National Popular Vote," Gonzalez added.
National Popular Vote is an agreement among states that approve it. It's not yet live; it will take enough states to total at least 270 votes — the minimum required to win the presidential contest — before the agreement takes effect. According to the National Popular Vote organization, 15 states and the District of Columbia have signed on, with a total of 196 Electoral College votes, though it is not expected to go live before the 2020 election.
Gonzalez said, "We have real momentum, which is why in the coming months both organizations will ramp up their efforts even more. Every American deserves a voice in our presidential elections. Regardless of where you are from, every eligible voter should be able to cast a vote and have that vote counted accurately and weighted equally. Under the current system, this isn’t the case. Our legislators did the right thing by passing the National Popular Vote bill, and now voters will need to uphold it. The National Popular Vote will return power to the people."
Backers of the repeal, including Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, have said that repealing the law will allow the Coloradans to have their voices heard. "We will not give our votes for president to states like California and New York. I look forward to the campaign ahead, and I look forward to defeating Colorado’s participation in the national popular vote scheme," she said last week.
The 2020 measure will be the first time since 1932 that Coloradans have been asked to strike down a law passed by the General Assembly.
The move to repeal the 2019 law comes just weeks after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that presidential electors were not bound by state law that required them to vote for the winner of Colorado's popular vote for president. National Popular Vote also was cited as one of the reasons for recall attempts against Gov. Jared Polis and state Sens. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Pete Lee of Colorado Springs.