View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Amendment 36 - How It Will (or Won't) Work 

It turns out that those pushing electoral deform here in Colorado have got a precise formula for how their system will work. The website for Make Your Vote Count (For Less) has the full text of the proposed Amendment. I'm here to translate it into English.

You take each candidate's vote percentage, multiply it by the number of electoral votes Colorado has, and round it to the nearest whole number. So, in answer to the questions in a prior post: the threshold is a ridiculously low 5.5%, you need 61% to get 6 electoral votes, and no, there's no bonus for winning the state. If Colorado goes back to some even number of electoral votes, and you get 50% + 1, you still only get half the votes.

I won't bore you with the details here, but there are some mathematical combinations whereby rounding error and third parties can either result in either 10 or 8 votes being awarded. They handle those by either taking a vote away from the lowest total, or adding one to the highest.

Now, I called the MYVC(FL) offices, and actually spoke to State Senator Ron Tupa (D-Boulder), quoted here:

“This is great news for the citizens of Colorado,” said Democratic State Senator Ron Tupa (D-Boulder).“It means voters will be afforded the unique opportunity to reform an outdated electoral system which disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of Colorado voters.”

Let's just say that Sen. Tupa, while a perfectly nice guy, doesn't come across as the brightest bulb in the chandelier. He's proposed previous electoral deform, but has come out enthusiastically for this Amendment, claiming that it's even better than what he proposed. It's a shame he doesn't know what's in it. He couldn't answer any of my questions, couldn't answer any of the specific scenarios I gave him, and referred me to the website for the text. The text itself isn't linked to from the front page, although it's not hidden, and he couldn't direct me to it.

When I asked him specifically about what happens after the next reapportionment, if we get 10 electoral votes, he said he didn't know what the formula required, that he "didn't think that anyone there had thought this thing through that far, and that it would be at least 10 years before that happened." (Hint: 2012 - 2004 = 8.) That's thinking ahead.

As an aside, I'd mention that Sen. Tupa comes from a district that elected him with 72% of the vote in 2000, and elected his Democratic predecessor with 72% of the vote in 1996. If he's got time for hobbies like this Amendment, he must be fairly confident of re-election. So according to his logic, about 28% of his district is disenfranchised. This is not a proposal for action. I say this as someone who is unalterably opposed to a list system.

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