As the United States of America found that its initial governing document was ineffective, work began on a replacement. While debating what became our Constitution, a variety of interests were considered before the final document was developed and approved.
One concern was how to protect people from the “tyranny of the majority” and to make sure that the interests of people from smaller states would not be run over by those from bigger ones.
The Great Compromise of 1787 led the way to adoption of the Constitution because representation in Congress was split between representation of people in the House of Representatives and representation of states in the Senate. All states received two senators with membership in the House based upon population.
The Constitution also established that the president would be elected by the Electoral College not by popular vote. As each state was allotted electoral-college votes based on its number of representatives and senators, the Great Compromise effectively gave small states additional power in selection of the president.
Fueled by two elections in the past 20 years in which the winner of the Electoral College lost the popular vote, movement to elect our president by popular vote gained momentum. Given the difficultly to amend the federal Constitution, proponents came up with the concept of a compact of states to effectively replace the Electoral College.
Under the compact, states would direct their electoral-college votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of the vote in their own states. As soon as states equaling more than half of electoral votes joined the compact, it would go into effect.
Colorado passed a law to join the compact in 2019. Opponents gathered enough signatures to refer the question to voters, and now the decision is up to us. Proposition 113 asks Colorado voters whether we should join the compact.
Proponents argue that we’re all part of the United States and that every person’s vote, regardless of where he or she lives, should be equal and that the current system has not only led to people winning the election while losing the popular vote, but forces candidates to focus their interest on people in relatively few competitive states.
Opponents say Colorado’s electoral votes should go to the winner in Colorado, and the change would effectively reduce the impact of Colorado voters as our influence in the decision of electing a president would be reduced.
Your decision on Proposition 113 is not one based on a set of facts that are right or wrong. Both proponents and opponents are making reasonable arguments based upon what they believe should be the basis for how we distribute power.
It concerns the same issues that led to the Constitution almost 250 years ago. As you vote to decide whether Colorado should join the compact, you’ll be considering some of those same questions.