Colorado House sends National Popular Vote bill to Gov. Polis' desk

colorado capitol
Posted at 10:55 AM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 12:58:21-05

DENVER – The bill that would have Colorado award its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote for president is headed to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk after it passed its final House vote Thursday morning.

HB19-042, the National Popular Vote bill, passed the House in a 34-29 vote, with six Democrats voting against the measure. Zero Republicans supported the bill in the Senate or the House as it passed both chambers.

If Gov. Polis signs the bill, Colorado would join 11 other states and Washington, D.C. in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would go into effect if states that have 270 electoral votes all join the compact.

If Polis signs the bill, it would add Colorado’s nine electoral votes to the 172 votes from states that are already members of the compact. The new governor indicated previously he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.

The bill passed the Senate on party lines in late January. Six Democrats voted against the measure on Thursday – most of whom are from purple or conservative district. They were Reps. Adrienne Benavidez (Adams Co.), Bri Buentello (Pueblo), Daneya Esgar (Pueblo), Barbara McLachlan (Durango), Marc Snyder (Manitou Springs and Donald Valdez (La Jara).

“This bill has the potential to help Americans believe that their vote matters whether you’re a rural, urban or suburban voter - through this bill every vote counts equally,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver, who is one of the bill's sponsors. “Coloradans shouldn’t allow a few battleground states like Florida or Ohio to be the deciders for our entire country when electing the next President of the United States.”

"The other 38 states are completely ignored by presidential campaigns," said Senate sponsor Mike Foote, D-Lafayette. "Our president should be elected because the president appeals to the majority of the voters here in the United States. Not just the majority of voters in the 12 battle ground states.”

Republicans have pushed back against the bill this session, saying it could harm Colorado’s ability to be a player in future presidential elections and that it was undermining the Electoral College established by the nation’s founders.

After the bill passed the House on Thursday, a Mesa County commissioner and the mayor of the town of Monument filed a proposed referendum to put the question of whether Colorado should join the compact to a statewide vote.

“This push to give Colorado’s votes for President to California and New York is harmful and undermines Colorado voters,” Monument Mayor Don Wilson said in a statement. The proposal would have to be certified by the Secretary of State’s Office, which already testified in favor of HB19-042.

But Republicans in the Senate already offered a similar amendment to the bill while it was going through committee, which was shot down by Democrats.