Our Democracy is in Trouble. We Need the National Popular Vote.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Sen. Mike Foote (D)

With the tragic passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her replacement likely confirmed before Election Day, we will soon see a shocking reality:  Presidents who lost the popular vote will have appointed a majority of Supreme Court justices.  George W. Bush appointed two justices and Donald Trump reportedly has the votes in the Senate to appoint his third.

Our democracy is in trouble when a minority of voters can determine the future of issues that affect all Americans.  How we elect our President has a profound effect on how that person governs and who assumes positions of power.   The current way we elect our President disenfranchises millions of voters and warps our political system.

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com projects that Joe Biden needs to win the popular vote nationally by more than 3 points to have even a 50-50 chance of winning the Electoral College.  Unlike any other election we have in this country, there is a good possibility the presidential candidate who earns the most popular votes will actually lose the election (again).


It doesn’t have to be this way.  The National Popular Vote, when enacted by enough states, will make sure the presidential candidate who earns the most popular votes throughout the country actually wins the election.  There will be no more of candidates focusing on a handful of competitive “swing” states at the expense of voters in Colorado and 40 other states across the country.  Presidential candidates will have to win the majority of popular votes in order to assume the office, just like every other elected official in the country.

People are fed up.  They are tired of not being heard.  That is especially true in communities of color, as outlined by a recent article in the Colorado Sun:

Amanda Gonzalez, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, a liberal organization focused on democracy reforms, said the Electoral College isn’t just about power — it’s about confidence.

The winner of the popular vote has lost the Electoral College in two of the previous five presidential elections. The idea that a majority of voters don’t vote for the winner, she says, can undermine belief that the system is working, a sentiment that can be especially strong among people of color, whose votes have been intentionally suppressed for decades through poll taxes, literacy tests and other Jim Crow laws.

“That’s not good for our democracy and particularly people of color who have faced a long history of being very intentionally disenfranchised,” Gonzalez said. “Voter confidence in a system is particularly important.”

There are many ways we can channel that frustration into activism.  One of those is coming up on Colorado’s ballot this fall.  The Colorado legislature and Governor Polis made us part of the National Popular Vote agreement in 2019, and Proposition 113 asks voters to approve that decision.

Approval of Proposition 113 will keep Colorado as one of 15 states plus Washington D.C. in the National Popular Vote agreement.  It will take effect once enough states with 270 electoral votes come on board.  Already 2/3 of the necessary states have signed on, but dark money opponents affiliated with Cory Gardner are working hard to make sure that stops with Colorado.

For anyone asking “what can I do to make a difference” – one way is to make sure Coloradans vote YES on Proposition 113 this fall.  We can stop the assault on our democracy, but it begins with changing the way we elect the President.

7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenver says:

    Bush 43 Supreme Court nominations were after his 2004 win, where he clearly did have a popular vote win — 3 million votes, if I remember right.

    If anyone is concerned about Presidents with less than 50% of the vote appointing Justices, bump the count by one.  Clinton/Gore won two elections with less than 50% — Justice Breyer apparently meets your criteria, too.

    • 2Jung2Die says:

      Foote wasn't talking about less than 50% though, just about not finishing first. Clinton's 1st win was when independent Ross Perot got almost 20%, so split almost 3 ways getting 50% for any one candidate would've been tough.

    • Voyageur says:

      Clinton Gore had sizeable pluralities, less than majority because of strong third party, notably perot.

    • kickshot says:

      You could turn this into the McConnell Corollary.

      Just run a 3rd party candidate every election strong enough to prevent a majority vote for anybody. Then noone would ever be entitled to a SCOTUS nomination and after a few generations there would not be any justices left.

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