Tuesday, March 17, 2009

House Says "Yes" To Bill Requiring Colorado Presidential Electors to Vote For Winner of National Popular Vote

A bill that would require Colorado's presidential electors to cast their votes in the Electoral College in favor of the candidate who won the national popular vote, even if that candidate did not win the most votes in Colorado, gained final approval in the House today.

HB 1299 was approved, 34-29, with three Democrats joining Republicans in opposition.

Proponents of the bill, led by sponsor Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, say it is necessary to ensure that the people in the state who voted for the national popular vote winner have their votes counted.

But opponents say the shift would mean that presidential candidates pay attention only to heavily-populated states, where most of the popular vote needed to win would be likely to be found.

If cleared by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter, HB 1299 would make Colorado the fifth state to join an interstate compact in which member states agree to cast Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey, which together account for 50 electoral votes, are the existing members of the compact.

The compact would go into effect when states with a total of 270 electoral votes - a majority of the Electoral College - agree to join.

Colorado has nine electoral votes.

The General Assembly has debated similar measures in three of the last four sessions.