Woodland Park supports initiative to kill popular vote law
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
In a partial political triumph for Woodland Park and other communities in the Pike Peak region, an effort to squash the state’s national popular vote law has leaped a huge regulatory hurdle.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office ruled last week that a citizens’ petition, forcing Senate Bill 42– legislation that would award Colorado’s nine Electoral College presidential tallies to the winner of the national popular vote, instead of the winner of the state’s popular vote–to go before Colorado voters.
However, due to the fact that odd-year elections (like 2019) are reserved for fiscal-only ballot issues, it won’t appear on the election slate until 2020.
Still, the citizens’ initiative effort was quite impressive, with opponents of the state’s popular vote law, garnering more than 180,000 valid signatures from registered electors, well more than what is required. Proponents of the initiative contend that the law would take away the tallies cast by Colorado voters, especially in rural areas.
Woodland Park Councilman Noel Sawyer even went further, declaring the state’s new national popular vote law, often dubbed as the anti-Donald Trump bill, as a violation of the constitution. The Woodland Park City Council recently passed a non-binding resolution, declaring their staunch opposition to the national popular vote law. The resolution was mostly a symbolic gesture, but it attracted much attention. And although the WP council is sometimes divided on certain issues, the elected leaders unanimously supported the resolution opposing the new state voting law and endorsed the citizens’ counter initiative.
Proponents of the new law, including Governor Jared Polis, say the measure would assure everyone’s vote counts, no matter where they live. Supporters of the law have cited the importance of respecting the desires of the majority of Americans.
If such a measure had been in effect during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton would have become the president instead of Donald Trump, since she obtained the most popular votes nationally. That’s why some refer to the measure as the “ant-Donald Trump law.”
The law has been supported by at least 12 states, including Colorado and the District of Columbia. The popular vote law would require enough states to support the change to secure 270 electoral college tallies. Currently, supporters have only garnered about 170 tallies nationwide, meaning it probably won’t go into effect in 2020. But the prospects look good for an eventual passage of this measure.
Big Opposition Mounted Locally
Locally, the law has ignited much opposition by area municipalities. Besides Woodland Park, leaders in Monument and Fountain have voiced stern opposition.
In fact, Monument Mayor Don Wilson played a key role in organizing the citizens’ initiative against the law. With last week’s ruling by the Secretary of State’s Office, Wilson expressed much relief and attributed the success of the petition effort to the group’s volunteers.
“The people of Colorado will have their voice heard,” said Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, another leader of the initiative campaign. “We will not give our votes for president to states like California and New York.”
These views are shared by the Teller County commissioners and leaders of the Teller Republican Party, who organized efforts to support the citizens’ initiative.
The initiative marks the first time since the 1930s a state law faces the prospects of getting repealed.
The fight over the popular vote law is expected to further the schism between the Republican and Democratic parties in Colorado.
Proponents of a related effort to recall Polis cited the popular vote law as a major reason for ousting the current governor from office. This recall effort is heavily supported by key local Republican leaders and by some prominent business owners in Woodland Park.
In any case, a big campaign chest is building from the citizens’ initiative group, which has already raised more than $500,000. Meanwhile, a group supporting the law recently formed and is called Yes on National Popular Vote.