Referendum to challenge Colorado's national popular vote law approved for 2020 ballot

Posted at 10:36 AM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 14:38:50-04

DENVER – Colorado voters will decide in November 2020 whether to repeal the state’s national popular vote law, which was passed by the legislature and signed into law earlier this year, after the referendum petition was approved on Thursday.

Colorado joined at least 15 other states and Washington, D.C. as part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would only go into effect if enough states agree to be part of the compact.

Republicans pushed back against the measure while it was being debated and after it was signed into law, saying it undermined the Electoral College and harmed Colorado’s ability to be a player in presidential elections.

Fountain and Monument have already passed resolutions opposing the law. Monument’s mayor was one of the organizers of the referendum initiative.

Supporters of the petition, Protect Colorado’s Vote, submitted 228,832 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office on Aug. 1. The Secretary of State’s Office projected that 183,673 of the signatures would be deemed valid after a random sample of 5% of the signatures.

That means the referendum petition is projected to have 147% of the necessary valid signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot.

The referendum question will read as follows: “Shall the following Act of the General Assembly be approved: An Act concerning adoption of an agreement among the states to elect the President of the United States by national popular vote, being Senate Bill No. 19-042?”

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold supported passage of the bill, saying it upholds the principle of “one person, one vote.” Yes on National Popular Vote, an issue committee that supported passage of the law, urged voters to vote "yes" on the ballot referendum in order to support the law. The group's president, Patrick Rosenstiel, said the referendum was a "clearly partisan effort" targeting the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis.

"Our focus today is simple -- to build the political organization required to win this campaign and bring our country one important step closer to having a popular vote for president," Rosenstiel said. "We're asking Colorado to vote YES on a popular vote for president, and ratify the excellent decision made by the Governor and the Legislature."

Her office said Thursday that the 2020 referendum will be the first put to a vote in Colorado since 1932, when Colorado voters overturned a legislature-passed tax on margarine.

A recent 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that said Colorado’s electoral voters don’t have to support the winner of the state popular vote could also affect Colorado’s entering the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.