National popular vote gaining populist steam, pitchforks optional

It may not carry the same snickering visual imagery of Mike Rosen sporting crimson pantaloons and draped in a luxurious ermine robe that Aaron Harber tried to evoke in his commentary on electoral college reform. But renewed cries for change in the presidential election process are gaining favor at state legislatures around the nation, including Colorado.

Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, and Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, are pushing the direct democracy argument with HB 1299 which, if enacted, would award Colorado’s nine electoral college votes to the presidential candidate who won the national popular vote (NPV), not merely the highest vote-getter in the state. Like other proposals floating around state legislatures, Kerr and Romer’s bill only goes into effect if enough states join the cause — meaning they collectively control 270 or more electoral college votes.

The primary argument, and the one that has circulated for years, against the current system is that states like Colorado, with few electoral college votes, get bypassed for vote-rich states like New York and California.

The liberal state legislature advocacy group, Progressive States Network, posted an NPV-a-palooza on its Web site Monday tracking the issue across the nation. In its case for NPV in Colorado, the group writes:

With an 8.95% margin of victory in the last presidential election — [Colorado] is the most competitive state to move NPV through a legislative chamber this session. Despite their status as a putative “swing state,” legislators in the Colorado House have figured out that even if you are one of the lucky states that manage to get attention under the current system, it doesn’t mean that the system itself is working. As Rep. Andy Kerr noted, “We’re trying to move from battleground states in each presidential election, and move toward every single voter becoming a battleground voter.”

As voters go, Coloradans seem to be warming up to the idea after the unprecedented 2008 presidential love-fest.

A December 2008 survey of 800 voters by Public Policy Polling showed 68 percent of Coloradans support NVP elections, with clear pluralities among Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.

HB 1299 passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Committee where it will be debated Wednesday.

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