Activists submit ballot question signatures, hoping to overturn new presidential popular vote law

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DENVER | A Colorado citizens’ campaign turned in thousands of voter signatures Thursday in hopes of repealing a new law that would pledge the state’s presidential electoral votes to the national popular vote winner.

The group Coloradans Vote said it submitted more than 227,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office — well above the 124,000 valid signatures needed to get the question on the November 2020 ballot.

The secretary of state has 30 days to certify there are enough signatures to require a referendum.

A vote next year could mark the first time a state has joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, only to have the move challenged at the ballot box.

Republicans Rose Pugliese, a Mesa County commissioner, and Don Wilson, mayor of Monument, launched the campaign after Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed the Democrat-sponsored legislation into law in March.

The compact would take effect if states with a collective 270 electoral votes — the number needed to win the presidency — agree to join. Including Colorado and its nine electoral votes, the 15 states and the District of Columbia that now belong to the compact have a total of 196 votes.

Colorado’s electoral votes currently are cast for whoever wins the popular vote in the state.

The National Popular Vote campaign was launched after Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush when electoral votes were tallied.

It gained new momentum after Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, even though he collected 3 million fewer votes nationwide.

Colorado Republicans argued the compact would compel candidates to bypass smaller, rural, often GOP-leaning states during campaigns to focus on states with large numbers of electoral votes such as California (55), Florida and New York (29) and Illinois (20).