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
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
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
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