by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
California Democrats have been cutting six-figure checks to promote the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV) in Colorado ahead of a referendum vote in the state next November.
The NPV would change how the Electoral College operates without amending the Constitution. It pledges a state’s Electoral College votes to the candidate receiving the most votes nationwide in a presidential election.
The Colorado political committee Yes on National Popular Vote has collected just under $750,000 since its creation in late July. Over 98 percent of that money is from California donors, most of which is courtesy of a $500,000 donation from Stephen Silberstein, a board member of the National Popular Vote nonprofit that has driven the movement for more than a decade. Craig Barratt, a technology executive and longtime Democratic donor, gave $100,000. John Koza, chair of the National Popular Vote, contributed an additional $55,000.
Democratic calls for changes to the Electoral College gained traction following the 2000 presidential contest in which George W. Bush narrowly won the Electoral College but received fewer votes nationally than his opponent Al Gore. Enthusiasm surged again in 2016 after Donald Trump also won the Electoral College without garnering the most votes nationwide. Democratic presidential candidates such as Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders (I.) have advocated for eliminating the Electoral College.
Opponents of the NPV argue that less populated states like Colorado will lose some of their clout in presidential years, and heavily populated coastal areas will dominate the outcome.