Oct 202004
Authors: Joe Marshall

Some may call it a flip-flop; I call it an epiphany.

On Sunday I opposed the passage of Amendment 36 in Colorado.

On Monday I saw the light.

That night I sat at my computer with a half-empty glass of

water, sulking over the latest presidential polls and fuming over

increasing reports of the disenfranchisement of thousands of

African-American voters in Florida. My dream of a Sen. John

Kerry/Sen. John Edwards victory in two weeks began fading into the


Then it happened. As I stared at the Gallup Organization’s

state-by-state breakdown of the latest polls, my attention focused

on the battleground state named Colorado. My glass suddenly became

half full.

Could it be possible, or was my mind playing tricks on me? I

scrambled for a pen and paper, went back over the numbers, and

poured over my state-issued analysis of the 2004 ballot proposals

for Colorado. The numbers checked out and my comprehension of

Amendment 36 was reaffirmed.

It was true. If Amendment 36 passes, not only might it win the

election for Kerry, but it could destroy the Electoral College

altogether. Joy.

While I have long thought the Electoral College is an archaic

institution and our presidents should be elected by a popular vote,

I was against 36 for two reasons.

First, I was of the belief that Amendment 36, by splitting

Colorado’s meager nine electoral votes, would marginalize the

state’s impact on presidential elections. This may indeed be the

case, unless of course Kerry wins six key battleground states and

Bush wins the rest.

Second, my federalist ideology engrains me with the notion that

a problem plaguing the federal government is best solved by the

federal government, not a rogue state. I still adhere to this

credo, but Amendment 36 may pass in a fashion dramatic enough to

prompt other states to adopt similar measures. Such action would

undermine the Electoral College system, forcing its


Amendment 36 would, if approved by voters Nov. 2, divide

Colorado’s nine electoral votes between the candidates based on

percentage of votes. That means if President Bush wins Colorado by

a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, which is likely, he will only

win five-ninths, or five, of Colorado’s electoral votes. Kerry

would receive the other four.

With 538 votes up for grabs in the Electoral College, a

candidate must capture 270 electoral votes to declare victory in

the election. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, with four

and five electoral votes, respectively, all states employ a

winner-take-all electoral system in which the candidate winning the

majority of a state’s popular vote wins all of that state’s

electoral votes. Both Maine and Nebraska have two at-large votes,

but since one state is conservative and one is liberal, they would

probably offset each other in the event of a broken vote.

If Amendment 36 passes in Colorado, John Kerry only needs to win

six of the 14 “battleground” states where the race is close enough

to go to either candidate. Two of these states, Michigan and

Washington, have Kerry ahead in the polls. Bush is leading in

Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada and Colorado.

New Hampshire and Oregon are also close races, but with no

polling allowed in either state, it is assumed Kerry will win

Oregon and Bush will win New Hampshire.

With seven states still on the fence, the four states key to

Kerry’s success are Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

These states are not just the juiciest of the statistical dead

heats; they are also the undecided states Kerry has the best chance

of winning.

If Kerry can win all six of these states and the states he is

slated to win and Bush wins all the other battleground states

including Colorado, Kerry will have 268 electoral votes and Bush

will have 270 if Amendment 36 is defeated. Victory for Bush.

If however, Amendment 36 passes, Kerry will pick up at least

three votes from Colorado, making the new tally 271-267 in favor of




Joe Marshall is a senior history major. His columns run on


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