Colorado Selection of Presidential Electors, Initiative 36 (2004)

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The Colorado Selection of Presidential Electors Initiative, also known as Initiative 36, was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have created procedures for allocating Colorado's electoral votes for president and vice-president of the United States, based on the proportion of ballots that are cast in this state for each presidential ticket.[1]

Election results

Colorado Initiative 36 (2004)
Defeatedd No1,306,83465.22%
Yes 696,770 34.78%

Election results via: Colorado Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1][2]

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning popular proportional selection of presidential electors, and, in connection therewith, creating procedures for allocating Colorado's electoral votes for president and vice-president of the United States, based on the proportion of ballots that are cast in this state for each presidential ticket; making the terms of the proposed amendment effective so that popular proportional selection of presidential electors applies to the 2004 general election; setting forth procedures and timelines that govern the certification of election results and the potential recounting of votes in elections for presidential electors and in the election on this proposed amendment; granting the Colorado supreme court original jurisdiction for the adjudication of all contests concerning presidential electors and requiring that such matters be heard and decided on an expedited basis; and authorizing the general assembly to enact legislation to change the manner of selecting presidential electors or any of the procedures contained in this amendment.[3]


The following background information was provided on the state Blue Book:[2]

In the United States, the president and vice president are elected using a system called the electoral college. Under this system, each state is allotted electoral votes equal to the number of the state's representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress. The electoral college currently consists of 538 electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado has nine of these electors. In all but two states, the candidate who gets the most votes receives all of the state's electoral votes. A candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. If no candidate obtains a majority of electoral votes, the presidency is decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, with each state allotted one vote.

In Colorado, each political party designates nine electors. Electors pledge to support that party's candidate for president and vice president. After each presidential election, electors from the winning party meet at the State Capitol to cast their vote for president and for vice president. All 50 states have a similar process for choosing electors.

Under this proposal, beginning with the November 2004 election, Colorado would allocate its electoral votes according to the percentage of ballots cast for each presidential ticket. Electoral votes would be divided, in whole numbers, among the competing candidates according to the number of votes each candidate receives. For example, if Candidate Smith gets 55 percent of the votes and Candidate Jones gets 45 percent, then Smith would receive five electoral votes and Jones would receive four.

The proposal also adds procedures and time lines to the state constitution for certifying election results and recounts related to the vote on this proposal.[3]

Arguments for

The following arguments in favor of Amendment 36 were provided on the state Blue Book:[2]

1) This proposal makes Colorado's electoral vote more accurately reflect the statewide vote. Under the current winner-take-all system, one candidate automatically gets all of the state's electoral votes, even if he or she doesn't win a majority of votes on election day. Instead, Colorado's electoral votes should reflect all candidates who have widespread support, not just the candidate who gets as few as one more vote than another.

2) This proposal may motivate more people to vote because the votes of more Coloradans will be represented in the electoral college. Under the current system, eligible citizens may not bother to participate in elections if they believe that their vote will have no impact on the outcome, especially voters not affiliated with a political party. The proposal may also encourage minor-party candidates to pay more attention to Colorado issues, in hopes of winning an electoral vote.

3) There can be no delay in the election of the president because of this change to the Colorado Constitution. The U.S. Constitution requires that the electoral college meet and cast votes in December following a presidential election, and that timing is unaffected by this proposal. Further, the Colorado courts have approved other proposals that are retroactive in nature.[3]

Arguments against

The following arguments against Amendment 36 were provided on the state Blue Book:[2]

1) Colorado will likely become the least influential state in presidential elections because our current nine electoral votes will almost always be split 5-4. By awarding nine electoral votes to the winner, the current system encourages candidates to campaign in the state on issues of importance to Coloradans. In contrast, the proposal reduces the incentive to campaign in Colorado when a candidate might only pick up one or two additional electoral votes.

2) By making it easier for minor-party candidates to win electoral votes in Colorado, the proposal could lead to a situation where no candidate wins a majority of the electoral vote nationally. If this happens, the presidency would be determined by the U.S. House of Representatives with each state getting only one vote. Smaller states then would have disproportionate power, further weakening the popular vote by increasing the chance that the U.S. Congress, not the public, will elect the president.

3) Because the proposal attempts to be retroactive, it may be subject to legal challenge on the issue of timing, which could delay a final decision in Colorado on who wins the presidency in 2004. Further, voters in the 2004 election cycle may not realize that the outcome of the vote on this proposal will affect how Colorado's electoral votes are allocated in 2004.[3]

Campaign finance

Make Your Vote For President Count spent a total of $1,519,343 in support of the proposed measure. In opposition, a group called Coloradoans Against a Really Stupid Idea spent a total of $738,419.[4]

See also

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