I have been reporting on the state of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact—NPVIC or NPV—since it’s introduction to the Colorado legislature in January of this year. If you don’t know what the National Popular Vote is, I have a detailed description that can be found here. In short, the NPV seeks to change the way that we elect the president. Currently, each state holds its own “popular vote” for president. Whichever candidate wins the popular vote of the state wins all of the electoral votes of that state—with two exceptions, in Nebraska and Maine. The NPV does away with individual state votes and extends the “popular vote” to the entire country. Whichever candidate wins the popular vote of the country, will win all of the electoral votes that are needed to win the presidency. This means that if a candidate loses in your state, but wins nationally, all of your states votes will go to the candidate that your state didn’t vote for.
In Colorado, the compact passed the Senate on a party-line vote. It also passed in the House without a single Republican vote. Its passage began a petition which seeks to place the question before the voters. During public hearings, Representatives Emily Sirota (D) and Jeni Arndt (D) repeatedly stated that the legislature has the power to determine how electoral votes are cast. This is a true statement, though it is ironic to make in this case, given that the representatives were also making the claim that the compact would “make every vote count.”
Proponents of the petition are attempting to directly ask the people of Colorado if they want to vote for the president through a national popular vote, given that the legislature made that decision for all residents of Colorado—as opposed to placing the question on the ballot for a popular vote. Coloradans Vote, the organization that is heading the petition effort, claims that they have gathered 100,000 of the 124,632 required signatures to place the question on the ballot in 2020.
The organization is seeking to gather another 100,000 signatures by the middle of July, well ahead of the August 1 deadline. Those signatures will then be passed on to political activist and Secretary of State, Jena Griswold for verification. Secretary Griswold, however, is facing a lawsuit on this issue for denying a CORA request, similar to a Freedom of Information request. A reporter for the Washington Free Beacon had asked for
A copy of all writings created or received by any of the named persons below, between and including the dates of January 14-30, 2019, which contain any of the following keywords (ignoring case): “national popular vote” or “national popular vote interstate compact” or “NPV” “NPVIC” or “SB 42” or “SB-042” or “SB-42” or “19 42” or “19-42” or “Electoral College”
The reporter also requested an explanation, as required by state law, on any documents that were withheld. The Secretary of State’s office did indeed withhold documents but did not provide reasoning. The reporter only found out that the documents were withheld when he sent an e-mail to follow up on the CORA request. The lawsuit was filed with a court in Denver on June 13, 2019.
It is concerning that the Secretary of State is not forthcoming in providing communications related to the National Popular Vote and that she testified—either personally or through an aide—in favor of the compact in both the Senate and the House committee hearings. We will see if the question will be placed on the ballot after the August 1 deadline for signature gathering.