How to make Colorado's vote not matter - in one easy lesson

Amendment 36 is on the ballot for Election Day. This amendment would alter the apportionment of Colorado’s electoral votes to an extremely bizarre porportional system. Not winner-take-all, not the logical (though dilutive, in my opinion) system used by Maine and Nebraska, but a system wherein all nine votes will be divvied up according to the percentage of popular vote statewide. It is also written so that if it passes, it will apply retroactively to this year’s presidential voting. It is supported mostly by Democrats, funded by some jerk from California, and makes me ashamed of my party.

The rationale behind this seems to be that if this amendment had been in effect in 2000, our votes would have split 5-3 for Bush (we gained a seat from the last census), and Gore would have won election as president, and that Kerry may need the (likely) four votes he would get even if Bush wins the state again.

This is the most idiotic, short-sighted, and flat out stupid idea to have appeared on the ballot here in some years. First off, Colorado is in play this year thanks to a wide open Senate race. It’s possible that Kerry could take the state. Then this idea would have cost him votes.

Second off, it removes any incentive for a presidential candidate to pay any attention to Colorado. Nine electoral votes is a decent prize; it’s no New York, but it’s not Wyoming either. If this passes, except in rare instances of extreme landslide, the votes will always be distributed 5-4. The winner of the state will gain precisely one electoral vote. That’s worse than Wyoming! Colorado’s influence on the national scene would dwindle from little to none.

Third off, and partly related to the first off, is that Colorado may not always be safely Republican. Times do change. It’s just dumb to attempt to make such a major change for a situation that possibly will not exist 10 or 30 years from now. It’s shooting a gnat with an elephant gun.

Fourth off, the opposition group is named “Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea.” I like that.

I’ll be driving around with ‘Kerry for President’, ‘Salazar for Senate’, and ‘No on 36’ stickers on my car this fall. I could possibly get behind a change to the Maine/Nebraska model, but this? This is just ridiculous!



Well, there’s both the short term (the 2004 election) and the long-term. I find it appalling that there can be such division between the electoral vote and the popular vote, and I think that all states should have a proportioned electoral vote.

I (naively) believe that members of both parties would prefer that their candidate win both the popular vote and the electoral vote. While in the 2000 election, the Republicans won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote, the situation could easily reverse. And while the margin in 2000 election was about 500,000 votes, one can easily envision a scenario where one candidate wins the popular vote by a huge percentage (like, 2 or 3 million voters) but loses the electoral vote.

Regardless of party, this has to be viewed as bad.

Unless, of course, the principle is “win at all costs” in which case assassination and bribery would seem to be just over the hill.

I just read about this yesterday and I can’t believe anyone thinks it’s a good idea.

I also don’t get how supporters think they can get away with making it apply to the 2004 vote count. Expect emergency injunctions to be filed within minutes of the polls closing.

My brother lives in Colorado. I hope he’s on board against this.

I definitely plan to vote against this. Although, it is pretty funny to hear people talk about “Colorado’s conservative values” and how it’s a solidly conservative state, then turn around and say, “Well, it’ll always be 5-4, though.”

What a terrible idea to have voters going into the polls not sure how their vote is actually going to affect the thing they’re voting for.

Anything that makes the electoral vote more representative of the popular vote is a good idea, IMO. I will never understand, in this day and age, why any other arrangement is the least bit sensible. Good for CO, if you ask me. I don’t care in the slightest that such an arrangement might cause a Republican to win some years. That’s not the issue. The issue is the Electoral College, which is an anachronism, meant at conception to limit the impact of popular oppinion, rather than fully empower it. The day it vanishes, the happier I’ll be.

:smack: :smack: :smack: :smack:

WHY does my husband INSIST in staying here?!?!?!? I swear this state sucks more and more every day! We have idiots in office thinking they can do what they want while the people that pay their fucking bills get screwed because the “social services” department doesn’t have enough money to do anything to help the poorer working stiff. Now they want THIS?!?!?

That’s IT!! I’m taking my 2.5 kids and picket signs to the capital building :mad:

I gotta say, I’m with LoopyDude on this. The electoral system is outdated and should be replaced with direct popular election. This proposition is apparently attempting to at least make Colorado closer to that ideal. Now if we could get the other forty-nine states to do the same thing…

Then, candidates wouldn’t only pay attention to “swing states.” They’d actually have to try to win American votes rather than, say, Ohian (Ohioan? Ohioite? Ohioish?) votes.



I disagree and still disagree. I think the electoral college is necessary on focusing elections on state-by-state needs, enforcing the primacy of the states in the nation. Without it, states would be further reduced in authority. I do not wish the US government to claim more power.

I agree with the sentiment expressed by AvhHines and others in this thread that the Electoral College is a bad idea, and that the ‘electoral vote’ should more accurately represent the popular vote. Anything that makes a candidate work for the entire country’s vote is better than making a candidate work for a state’s vote.

This is more or less my view. I’m a complete supporter of the electoral college. I believe it requires a candidate to demonstrate breadth of support as well as depth. Yes, occasionally someone will win without a majority of the popular vote, but I don’t see that as enough of a drawback to matter. It’s only happened thrice in 54 elections; both the system and the nation have survived. The founders were inspired when they came up with this idea.

If one would like to construct worst case scenarios: if the presidential election was decided by popular vote alone, it would be possible for a candidate to win only two or three states by huge majorities and win election while losing the vote in 47 other states. I don’t think that would be a good thing.

I have a question: isn’t there an argument that the proposal would be unconsitutional, because it would be contrary to Article I, § 4 of the federal Constitution? This provision reads:

If I’ve understood correctly, this is a proposal to amend the Colorado state constitution by a plebescite of the citizens. Where do they get the authority to determine how the electors shall be chosen?

The meaning of Art I, §4 was an issue in the Florida debacle in 2000. One of the arguments against what the Florida courts were doing was that they were changing the way electors were chosen, which under the federal Constitution is the exclusive preserve of the state Legislature to decide.

As well, if it goes ahead and applies retroactively, wouldn’t it deprive Colorado of the “safe harbour” clause of the federal electoral law, the one that says if the votes are determined by mid-December according to the terms of a state law enacted prior to the general election, then the state’s tally of electoral votes is not subject to challenge in Congress. (I’m paraphrasing from memory here.) Since the law here wouldn’t be determined prior to the national election, wouldn’t it create the possibility the whatever the Colorado tally is, it will be challenged in Congress if there is a tight race?

Any thoughts?

Although the number of members for each state in the electoral college is associated with the number of members of Congress, they are elected separately. When you cast a vote for President, you are actually casting a vote for an elector, or a slate of electors. Section II, Article 1 of the Constitution states that the method of choosing electors is entirely up to the state:

From this site.

Well, it would be the responsibility of the state courts to determine the meaning of the state statutes, eh?

I need to defer on this to someone who knows more. I will agree that if it passes, I expect to see one or the other political party, if not both, in court the next day.

A factual error in an earlier post: a president has been elected four times with a minority of the vote. I forgot 1824, which wound up in the House of Representatives.

While I agree in theory, the reality is that it still doesn’t give us an outcome where the resultant electoral votes represent the popular vote. Now, I am not the greatest wrt numbers, but based on the data from, by my calculations, under a “proportional electoral vote” scheme, Al Gore would’ve walked away with approximately* 257 EVs, Ralph Nader 15, 1 still abstains (DC), *5 go unaccounted for due to rounding that I couldn’t figure out a way to correct for in Excel, and George Bush gets 259 – Bush still wins. (My spreadsheet is here.)

Spiny Norman taking over from here – he’s got some great insights/input and it’s just easier to pick up from here than to start a whole new chain of thought…

The numbers will always be whacked.

I grew up in a country with Parliament seats being assigned proportionally, and sometimes the numbers come out skewed, because the assignment algorithm (yes, I studied CS, why do you ask? ) has to eventually “round off” - you can’t assign 0.33 electoral votes (or parliament seats), and it only get’s trickier when the number of competing parties go up.

For one thing, each electoral vote is not backed by the same amount of voters. If state A has 10 million voters and 5 electoral votes, it takes 2 million voters to score a solid electoral vote. State B may have only 7 million voters and 4 electoral votes, so for state B, each electoral vote only needs the backing of 1.75 million voters. Obviously, this can lead to disproportionate assignment of electoral votes.

The long-haired bit are those pesky “rounding errors”, though. Say state A (10 million voters) has 5 candidates on the ballots. Easy-peasy, every 2 million votes triggers an electoral vote, right ? The votes come out as follows:

[li]Candidate Able: 4.45 million votes[/li][li]Candidate Baker: 4.35 million votes[/li][li]Candidate Charlie gets 0.7 million votes[/li][li]Candidate Dog gets 0.5 million[/li][/ul] Obviously, Able and Baker both get 2 electoral votes up front. 2 million votes, 1 electoral vote, piece of cake. Splitting the last one is sorta tricky, though.

Do we give Candidate Charlie a full electoral vote with only 700,000 voters casting their ballots his way ? That hardly seems fair - he only speaks for 7% of the voters, but he runs away with 20% of the decisive power.

Or do we institute a “cut-off point” where a candidate needs to have, say, 10 % of the votes to even be taken into consideration ? That could lead to Candidate Able beating Baker disproportionately - 3-2 - even though he’s only 100,000 votes ahead. Plus, of course, the voters for Dog might feel disenfranchised.

There’s just no even-handed way of rounding, and it would’ve come down to just that in the 2000 election, too.

(I’m sure that there’s some incredibly embarrassing math error up there somewhere. Please be gentle.) [/Spiny Norman]

From this article on the topic:

Thanks, Otto, it’s clear that I misunderstood the point of Northern Piper’s question.

:smack: I was looking at Art. I, § 4, and Art. II, § 1, and quoted the wrong one. Sorry.

But, the point still stands:

The federal Constitution gives the power of deciding how electors will be appointed to the State Legislature, not to the people of the state. So how can the people set up the scheme for appointment of electors?

That was the counter-argument advanced by Gore’s lawyers: the Florida courts weren’t making up a new system, simply reconciling conflicting time-lines in the different Florida electoral laws, using the standard principles of statutory interpretation. Bush’s lawyers replied that the decisions of the Florida courts went beyond that task, and that the courts were essentially inventing new time-lines as they went along.

The Supreme Court commented on this issue in its first decision in the 2000 election, George W. Bush, Petitioner, v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, as a contributing factor in remanding the issue to the Florida Supreme Court:

The point of the discussion is that the power to appoint electors is vested solely in the state legislature by the federal Constitution, and neither the Florida courts, nor the Florida state Constitution, can take away that power from the state Legislature. Although that case didn’t consider a voter plebiscite amending the state Constitution, I would think the concern is equally valid there: the people do not have the independent authority, under the federal Constitution, to determine the manner of appointing the electors.

(Which is different from the people determining who will be their electors (i.e. - voting for their choice for President), if that is the manner of appointment that the state Legislature has set up.)

Weren’t all y’all bitching about the electoral system back in 2000 for giving you the wrong president, but now that it helps out your regional concern, you’re all for it?

See, it does have its advantages…

Weren’t all y’all bitching about the electoral system back in 2000 for giving you the wrong president, but now that it helps out your regional concern, you’re all for it?


Hmm? Are you reading the same thread I am? I’m seeing two types of people in here; one side solidly against this amendment, the other believing the Electoral College should be done away with completely.

I’ve always stood foursquare and stalwart for the Electoral College, as is, even in 2000. Though I won’t go so far as to say Bush won fair and square, he did win, and is our legitimate president. I’m solidly against this amendment, despite its intention to give an advantage to the party I would like to see win.

Regardless of its possible effect on this election, it is an ill conceived and poorly designed proposal, and those who propose it are looking only at the short term advantages without a thought for the repercussions when the political climate changes in this state.

I’m against this amendment now, I was against it the 27 times I was asked to sign the petition, and I’ll be against it on November 3rd, no matter who wins this state.