Soon we will find out if the Colorado secretary of state will ratify a petition to repeal the so-called National Popular Vote law and have it placed on the November 2020 ballot. The petition clause allowed opponents of the law signed by Gov. Jared Polis the opportunity — providing they got enough qualified signatures — to have the people decide if this is the route they want to take in regard to the presidential election.
The movement, made of more than just rural Coloradans opposing another law pushed through the last legislative session by the Democratic-led legislature, has proven to be statewide. According to District 54 Rep. Matt Soper, signatures were obtained everywhere, from smaller communities like Delta County, to metropolitan areas such as Denver and Boulder.
Soper’s Facebook page received an incredible response when he posted that the movement obtained more than enough signatures. In effect, that leaves it up to the voters of Colorado to decide whether they want to be part of the interstate compact that would automatically cast all Colorado’s electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
As of Aug. 1, the post reached over 58,000 Facebook users and garnered 1,600 plus reactions, 278 comments and 932 shares. That’s an impressive amount. Remember in order for the law to officially be put into effect, enough states have to sign on to combine for 270 electoral votes. The count, including Colorado, sits at 196.
The Coloradans Vote group submitted more than 227,000 signatures. They were required to have at least 124,000 valid signatures. The odds are in their favor that they’ll hit that minimum. We’ll more than likely get to vote, and the eyes of the nation will be upon us in the November elections. There’s another election on the ballot that day, and the main character behind this movement will be up for re-election.
Of course, we know this is mainly about President Donald Trump, and no one expressed that better than Rep. Lori Saine when she introduced on the House floor a sarcastic short title for the bill. The “We really, really, really, really hate Donald Trump” Act of 2019. It also has something to do with the sting of the Bush-Gore election of 2000.
The petition clause is an effective way to have citizens’ voices heard. In other words, voters have a veto power if they choose to use it.
According to Soper, the last time the petition clause was used in Colorado was in 1932. It was at the height of the Great Depression and concerned a margin tax. The people challenged the tax but failed to overturn it. The last time the petition clause was successfully used was in 1916. It had to do with the legislation of doctors. The legislature wanted to change the medical practitioner profession to a state-regulated profession from a self-regulated profession. The medical community successfully gained enough signatures and placed the issue on the ballot, where it was successfully overturned.
The petition clause has not been used since that 1932 tax initiative which is quite interesting. So why not use the petition clause on the “Red Flag” law? Because it is attached to a safety clause. The legislature can determine that a bill is for the health and safety of the citizens of Colorado and attach the safety clause to it. A safety clause bill can’t be petitioned to be placed on the ballot. One could argue whether the ‘Red Flag’ law warrants such a tag, but that’s where it stands.
We’ll find out by Aug. 31, or shortly thereafter, if the petitioners have enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot in 2020. If they do, then the rhetoric will continue to heat up, but at least in the end it will be the voters who will decide how their votes will be counted. And that’s a cool twist to Colorado state legislation.
Dennis Anderson is group publisher for Wick Communications, Alaska and Colorado. He can be reached by email at dennisa@montrosepress.