View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Sunday, August 01, 2004

Cheating If It Isn't Close 

Apparently, Hugh's wrong. The Democrats in Colorado have found a way to cheat, even when it isn't close. They have gathered enough signatures for a ballot initiative making Colorado's electoral votes proportional, rather than winner-take-all.

"And close to 20 percent of them (the signatures) are from Republicans," said Democratic political consultant Rick Ridder, campaign spokesman. "We see this as a multi-partisan effort."

The measure would go into effect immediately for this year's presidential battle if voters approve.

Had it been in effect here four years ago, Al Gore would have been elected president.

The plan was denounced by Gov. Bill Owens and Ted Halaby, chairman of the Colorado State Republican Party. They viewed it as a political ploy that could bankrupt Colorado's clout in presidential elections.

This is clearly nothing more than an attempt to steal 4 electoral votes for Kerry, and also suggests that the Democrats behind it don't think they have much of a chance to carry the state in the fall. Republicans have to vote against this measure, and Kerry supporters should probably vote against it, too. What profit it their candidate if he win the state, but lose 4 electoral votes?

The next time 5 Democratic Senators split ranks, see who calls the bill "bipartisan."

As the article goes on to point out, the electors would split 5-4 every time, since over 61% of the vote would be required to split them 6-3. Colorado is basically a 55% state either way, meaning that even if the state were to grow in population, it's unlikely that winning it would mean more than 1 or 2 electoral votes. (After 2010, a tenth electoral vote would give the winner a 6-4 advantage.) This doesn't make Colorado more valuable, it makes it virtually insignificant.

While supporters will claim that the measure isn't retroactive, the fact is that the parties have already chosen their electors (or will have, by the time of the election) and that the presidential campaign is already underway.

I certainly hope that the state and national parties, and the Bush campaign, have lawayers looking at this thing now, preparing legal challenges. I have some faith that Colorado voters will reject this nonsense. But if they don't, the state has some chance of turning into this year's Florida.

Sadly, I doubt that the Colorado Supreme Court's ruling on redistricting will apply here. While the Republican plan, too, could be construed as changing the rules too close to the election, it was based on wording in an amendment having to do specifically with redistricting, when Colorado grew enough to become a multi-district state. We're probably going to be arguing from an entirely difference set of principles here. Still, it occurs to me that it might be embarassing for Attorney General Ken Salazar, who failed to defend the state's redistricting plan in court when it was sued. One might legitimately ask what his position would be in this case, especially if he were elected to the Senate.

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