My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


On Ballot Initiative 99
Ballot Initiative 99 is the proposal to divide Colorado's electoral votes based on the proportion of the popular vote, rather than award them in the current "winner-take-all" style.  The chief proponent of this initiative, Sen. Ron Tupa of Boulder (need I add the "D"?) wrote a defense of this measure on the Rocky Mountain News editorial page of today's Denver Post (try explaining that to an out-of-towner).
Below is the letter to the editor I have sent to the Rocky in response.

RE: Ron Tupa "Speakout"

In the Sunday Rocky Sen. Ron Tupa asserts that Initiative 99 "will put Colorado front and center in the national presidential picture, and give our citizens more influence in the election process." He uses this assertion to conclude that this initiative would "[make] Colorado a prizedbattleground’ state in this and every succeeding presidential election."

What Initiative 99 is in reality is a thinly veiled attempt at diluting the effect of a growing state that seems to be reliably Republican. As the system is currently designed, Colorado has nine electoral votes—not a huge total, but not insignificant. Under the system Tupa designed, Colorado’s nine electoral votes would be apportioned according to overall popular vote in the state. Let’s use the 2000 election as an example: President Bush received 53% of the popular vote in Colorado, while Al Gore received 39%. In the current system, all eight of Colorado’s electoral votes were awarded to President Bush; under Initiative 99, Colorado’s votes would have been split 5-3.

The implications of this change to Colorado’s influence are enormous. What is a mid-sized state with an important electoral vote cache would be reduced to a state in which, at most, two electoral votes are up for grabs. Consider: the Kerry campaign has already had one stop in Denver with another one planned for the near future, because it considers our nine votes up for grabs. Under the Initiative 99, the most either candidate could hope for from Colorado would be three votes (a 6-3 split in a landslide)—hardly worthy of much attention or any resources.

Tupa cites two other states that currently split their electoral vote count in a similar fashion; he neglects to mention that the electoral vote total from both states combined is nine, or that neither state has ever split their electoral vote.

Of course, none of this really matters. What the backers of this initiative are hoping for is to reduce the number of electoral votes President Bush will receive—plain and simple. Were this system in place in 2000, Al Gore would now be President. This plan would do little more than increase the influence of large population centers (California, New York, Texas) on the outcome of elections. And since large states would never dream of reducing their role in elections, Colorado should not be quick to gleefully abdicate its.

Note that on a national scale, had this system been in place, President Bush would have won 266 electoral votes in 2000, Al Gore 262, with the remaining 9 being either Nader votes or uncommitted—nobody getting to the magical 269. And you thought Florida was a fiasco . . .
Admittedly, it is probably too long to get printed.  I would welcome any editorial thoughts that might shorten it and make it more attractive as a re-submission closer to the election.
And, by the way, I strongly encourage everybody to oppose this measure.  If California and New York decide to do things in a similar way, maybe. . . until then, no way!

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