Pommer, fellow travelers continue disdain for Electoral College, U.S. Constitution

It’s baaaack. Once again our elected representatives at the state capitol have decided that your vote and your voice comes second to theirs. For the umpteenth time, they want to get Colorado out of the business of having to deal with the Electoral College system and go along with this “National Popular Vote” movement. It’s a “movement” alright, if you get my drift.

This years model is House Bill 1299, sponsored by Longmont’s own John “Jack” Pommer, Democrat – District 11 (pictured). He also was onboard with the earlier versions of this nonsense, as I’ve written about extensively. This time though it didn’t originate in the State Senate like the past versions, usually sponsored by Brandon Shaffer (another one of our illustrious local representatives), and I hope he’s seen the light on this issue – but I doubt it.

Ironically, the House is usually where the previous Senate bills went to die. Hopefully, one of our other local representatives Paul Weissmann will reprise his role and put this in the political graveyard where it belongs.

I’ll remind again that a similar measure went before the voters in Colorado in 2004 and was soundly defeated, rejected by 65% of the voters. But the main sponsor Andy Kerr, Democrat – District 26 (pictured), similar to other pushers of this idea (Brandon Shaffer, Ken Gordon, etc) thinks the legislature should overrule you, even though a vast majority of you voted against this.

So far only a bare handful of states have gone along with this scheme, equaling a whopping 50 Electoral votes. It wouldn’t kick in until enough states approved this scheme equaling 270 Electoral College votes. But these types have a long view of things with their systematic watering down and killing of what they call a “living Constitution”. But that aside (and that’s a lot to put aside) it’s just plain ridiculous for some states to use one system for electing a President, and others to use some half-baked scheme as the other.

Think it’s so great? Put it to the voters, again. Why don’t they? Why do they circumvent the voters and pass this as quietly as possible in state legislatures? Because they know what will happen, the 2004 vote is proof.

Brandon Shaffer: Not a voter’s best friend

How would you feel if you, along with almost 700,000 other Colorado voters (equaling 65.9% of the voters), voted one way but a newly elected representative tried to overturn that result, more than once? Worse yet, how would you feel if that representative voted to take away the right for you to vote on that issue again?

That’s exactly what current State Senator Brandon Shaffer did with Senate Bills SB06-223 and SB07-046. These two bills, which Senator Shaffer co-sponsored and voted in favor of, would’ve effectively overturned Amendment 36 (this amendment would have changed the way in which the state apportioned its electoral votes). The latter senate bill had an amendment to it that would “refer to people under referendum”, Senator Shaffer voted NO. Bottom line, he wanted to undo the voters will in 2004 and not give them a chance to be heard again on this issue.

Why would he do this? These bills were the brainchild and pet projects of Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon. You didn’t think Mr. Shaffer moved up the ranks to Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate so quickly just on looks, did you? When you’re a good soldier for your leader and your party, there are perks. I asked the question, but didn’t get an answer, as to how often Senator Shaffer voted against his own party. On all the important bills that I looked over he towed the party line straight down the line. Even if that meant undoing and silencing your vote.

Bipartisan? Independent? Hardly. Tell Mr. Shaffer you don’t like your vote played with and vote NO on retaining him in his State Senate District 17 seat.

Other local representatives of note on this issue: Representative Jack Pommer (Dem-11) voted similarly to Senator Shaffer, and is running for re-election. Representative Paul Weissmann (Dem-12) should be commended on this issue for killing it in his committee.

Electoral College Scam

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This takes a while to set up, bear with me.

I usually only make comments about Longmont and the local community on this website. When I want to step into the larger state and nationwide issues, it’s usually in the form of a letter to the paper. But this subject crosses over and is important, and I feel, so far, it hasn’t gotten the needed attention locally. For the most part, us “political junkie” types are the only ones paying more than a passing interest to this kind of thing.

Some background: In 2004, there was a Colorado Amendment 36, it would change the way Colorado allocates its Electoral College votes in a presidential election. Prior to that election I submitted the following to a few papers:

Make Colorado Matter©

Amendment 36, or as it’s called “Make Your Vote Count” from its supporters, has a couple serious flaws with it. First, unless it’s a landslide vote in the state, the allocation of electoral votes will almost always be 5-4. That means Colorado will basically be worth 1 electoral vote, less than the District of Columbia and 7 other states that have the minimum 3 electoral votes. Talk about making your vote completely worthless. Colorado would be the most ignored state in presidential politics, and that has local and regional ramifications.

The “winner-take-all” concept could be improved on, say, by allocating votes by congressional districts won. At least that could open the possibility of 7-2 or 6-3 splits, and make politicians pay attention to areas other than Denver and Boulder. To get an idea of how this might break down, I invite your readers to look at the following page on USA Today’s website http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/cbc/map.htm, it shows vote by County unfortunately, and not by District. But it makes the point that if a candidate can just carry a large city or two, the rural areas can be ignored and the candidate can take the state. Is that really what we want? In reality, this amendment should be called “Make Your Vote Count – if you vote a certain way”.

Secondly, and most importantly, ALL of the states would have to use this process to make it fair to ALL voters. Colorado could become the unfortunate national embarrassment Florida was in 2000, as everyone waits for us to count the votes for and against this amendment, and settle the court challenges sure to follow. As much as I think ALL states should reform the allocation of electoral votes, or do away with the Electoral College system altogether if that is the feeling of the majority, this amendment smells of partisan politics. Look again at that County map, especially the West Coast states; it’s obvious who benefits from metropolitan areas deciding for entire states. At the very least, it’s disingenuous by the amendments backers to claim it’s not partisan. This is the brainchild of a Brazilian-born Californian using Colorado as his guinea pig. To use this format for California would be disastrous for his candidate. It would mean instead of winning all of their 55 electoral votes, it’d be a 28/22/5 split amongst three candidates based on the most recent poll. Colorado with its mere 9 votes is a safe place to test this idea.

The anti-amendment slogan of “Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea”, is negative and, well, stupid. Is that the best you can come up with? I’d probably let you use my idea above.

The real winner in a system like this is the candidate that receives fewer votes. Instead of zero electoral votes, he’d get probably 4. Colorado is still too close to call, so that could help or hurt either presidential candidate. This November, send a strong message that votes outside Denver and Boulder should matter. That we are not guinea pigs for others and their partisan political games. Regardless of who you are voting for, vote against Amendment 36. It’s the only way to make your vote really count.

This amendment failed by an almost 2-1 margin. The voters sent a pretty strong message, or so it seemed. Fast forward to 2007 and the Majority Leader in the state Senate, Ken Gordon (D) (pictured below)

(303)866-3341 ken@kengordon.com http://www.kengordon.com ) sponsors SB07-46, a bill to once again play games with Colorado’s Electoral College vote allocation. This time around, it’s a multi-state pact where Colorado would allocate all of its 9 electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of how the state’s residents voted. This would only take effect if enough states signed on that equaled a majority of the Electoral College votes needed to win an election. It’s a cute way around amending the U.S. Constitution without actually going through the “hassle” of a national debate to amend it.

Seems Mr. Gordon also sponsored a 2006 version of this bill (SB06-223) which died a needed death. He was on the Senate Committee on Judiciary, where he brought in some hired guns to speak on behalf of this scam, no dissenting speakers allowed here, and moved that it passed, and voted for it. A one man constitutional wrecking crew. If there’s any justice, he came up a wee bit short in his bid for Secretary of State. Oops, the voters spoke, darn them voters. All they do is get in the way.

But regardless of how you feel about the idea, the bigger problem, as I see it anyway, is the way these people are trying to go around the voters. So not only are they attacking the U.S. Constitution, but also democracy and the way this republic has operated, pretty successfully overall I’d say, for over 200 years.

Here’s a follow-up article I wrote that the Daily Times-Call recently ran:

In the article “Electoral College bypass approved”, the AP left out a little, but extremely important factoid. This scam was attempted in the 2004 election in the guise of Colorado Amendment 36, it lost 65% to 35%, that’s not really very close. Now, whether you are in favor of such an idea, or which side of the political spectrum you sit, sneaking around the voters like this should never be tolerated. It’s one thing if our “representatives” were doing just that, representing those who elected them. It’s another thing altogether to disregard 65% of the voters on a state amendment, and it’s only been 2 years. Ken Gordon’s statement “It makes every person’s vote, every human being’s vote, equal” sure sounds noble. So what about all of those people who voted against this scam? They must not be human beings, or not worthy of equal treatment. Welcome to Colorado’s, and a few other misguided states, version of democracy. Where, regardless of the voters and that little thing called the U.S. Constitution, it’s the “we know better” mentality that wins out. Our new governor has a choice to make whether to sign or veto this nonsense. Let him know what you think, although I thought we did that 2 years ago.

The Longmont Connection

Much to my disappointment, the House sponsor for this bill is Representative Jack Pommer (D) (303)866-2780 jack.pommer.house@state.co.us (pictured at left). I met and spoke to Mr. Pommer at a candidate forum, and even voted for him, twice. Seemed like a decent enough guy, and he shouldn’t be judged on one issue. But he obviously feels pretty strongly about it as he’s a sponsor. I feel pretty strongly about playing games with the will and voice of the voters. Just because your party has a grip on both houses and the governorship, doesn’t give you the right to pull a fast one on us. Last years version of this bill, SB06-223, was laid over (means: make dead) by request of the House’s sponsor. This years sponsor, Mr. Pommer, should follow suit. No reply to initial email.

Next up, Senator Brandon Shaffer (D) 303-866-5291 brandon@brandonshaffer.com http://www.brandonshaffer.com (pictured at left). He voted for this bill, not a surprise, nearly every Democrat did. But it was something else he voted against that bothers me more. In SB46 there were the following lines:

16 SECTION 2. Safety clause. The general assembly hereby finds,

17 determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate

18 preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

What is this garbage? I have a life, so maybe I don’t know the finer points of legalese when it comes to bills, but this has a funny smell to it. Then I found the following:

Senator Mitchell moved to amend the Report of the Committee of the Whole to show that the 26 following Mitchell floor amendment, (L.002) to SB 07-046, did pass. Amend printed bill, page 7, strike lines 16 through 18 and substitute the following:

“SECTION 2. Refer to people under referendum. This act shall be submitted to a vote of the registered electors of the state of Colorado at the next biennial regular general election, for their approval or rejection, under the provisions of the referendum as provided for in section 1 of article V of the state constitution, and in article 40 of title 1, Colorado Revised Statutes. Each elector voting at said election and desirous of voting for or against said act shall cast a vote as provided by law either “Yes” or “No” on the proposition: “SHALL THE STATE OF COLORADO ENACT AND ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT AMONG THE STATES TO ELECT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BY NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE?” The votes cast for the adoption or rejection of said act shall be canvassed and the result determined in the manner provided by law for the canvassing of votes for representatives in Congress.”.

Summary: A fellow senator wanted to strike that odd “Safety clause” and bring this to a vote of the people. Keep in mind, we already voted for something similar to this. Senator Shaffer voted NO, along with Bacon, Boyd, Fitz-gerald, Gordon, Groff, Hagedorn, Isgar, Keller, Morse, Romer, Sandoval, Schwartz, Takis, Tapia, Tochtrop, Tupa, Veiga, Williams, and Windels – all Democrats. Not one voted opposite. This group, in my opinion, stands for meaningless and questionable language in an already questionable bill, and against the voice of the voters. They not only want to ignore how you already voted, they want to go about something without giving you a chance to be heard again.

Mr. Shaffer not only voted for SB06-223, last years version of this scam, but also was a co-sponsor! Form letter reply to initial email.

Longmont’s other representative is Representative Paul Weissmann (D) – (303)866-2920 reppaul@aol.com http://www.paulinthehouse.com/

Mr. Weissmann is the Chair on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, which is where this bill is right now. He was on this committee last year as well for SB06-223, which is where the bill died. So far, Mr. Weissmann has been the only one to respond to initial emails, which I appreciate.

The point is to call or email your representatives. I’ve made it painfully easy to do with all of their contact info and a brief tour of this subject. Also, since this is now in a House committee, here are the specific members you need to contact:

Chair: Weissman / Vice Chair: Todd

Members: Cadman, Carroll T, Casso, Gallegos, Jahn, Labuda, Lambert, Liston, Lundberg. Dems=7 / Reps = 4

There is much more on the internet about this, just do a Google web or news search using “SB46” or “SB07-46” or “Colorado Electoral College”. Here is a link to the Colorado General Assembly website, look for SB07-46 and click on the links involving it. Here are some links to articles you may or may not find interesting and/or educational. It’s a story that’s getting state and national attention. Hopefully I somewhat brought it all together for you. Now do something with it.

A shout out goes to my friend Chuck who brought it to my attention as it was a topic on the Mike Rosen show on 850 KOA. If you are still unclear what this all meant, this show can be listened to (after you sign up, which is free) at this link (Select Rosen Replay for 3/12/07 Hours 2 and 3) It’s well worth a listen for educational purposes no matter what side you sit on this issue.

This is not the first time this idea has come up, and probably won’t be the last. The two smiling faces above are your representatives, State Senator Brandon Shaffer and State Representative Jack Pommer (the bills co-sponsor). Mr. Pommer never even responded to my emails (or the Times-Call’s inquiries I’m told), and Mr. Shaffers aide wrote me what was not much more than a condescending form letter. Credit is given though to State Representative Paul Weissmann, who answered promptly and reasonably.

Here’s the point: This was a big waste of time and potentially taxpayer dollars (well, not completely potentially, their time is our taxpayer money), and a strong message needs to be sent to knock this nonsense off. You’d think the repeated NO votes and killings in committee would put an end to this coming up every year, but no. State Senator Ken Gordon is on this Electoral College destruction crusade, and if our Longmont reps want to go along with him, they will be held accountable. In the final committee meeting on this bill, Mr. Pommer heard from experts that this bill violates both the Colorado and U.S. Constitution, need to read that again? Mr. Gordon probably knew this as well, did Mr. Shaffer? If not, what kind of attorney is this that either doesn’t know the law or will knowingly violate it? And have the gall to not allow voters to have any say on it! Given all that, Mr. Pommer continued supporting the bill in the meeting until it’s needed death.

Here is a link to the committee report I will ask each of the three above, and you should as well, to take a hint and pledge to not sponsor or vote for any similar scam like SB46.

If they won’t, then you know all you need to know about how they serve you as your representatives: Voters, committees, and their repeated messages be damned, we’ll be renegades and do what’s best for our party, not our state or country. Which pledge will it be?

Longmont Daily Times-Call

Electoral College bypass approved (link no longer valid)

Rocky Mountain News

Don’t Neuter Electoral College

Electoral college bill ignites partisan fight

Electoral College dropout

Denver Post

Electoral-vote change gains

Under the dome, 1/19

There’s a lawmaker in my soup (link no longer valid)

Hands off Electoral College

Boulder Daily Camera

One person, one vote

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Cutting Colorado’s clout (link no longer valid)

The Pueblo Chieftain

Still ill-conceived (link no longer valid)

Colorado Springs Gazette

Senate OKs bill to make state bypass Electoral College

CBS4 Denver

State Senate backs Bypass Of Electoral College

Denver Daily News

Colorado ignored? (link no longer valid)

The Independence Institute

Memo to the General Assembly: No means “NO!”

All American Patriots.Com

Colorado Attorney General Urges Colorado Legislature And Governor To Oppose National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (link no longer valid)

CO & U.S. Constitutional attack by Longmont Representatives FAILS!


March 8, 2007, SB07-46, the bill to amend how Colorado handles its Electoral College votes, died in committee on a 10-1 vote, essentially killing it for this year.  You can read more about it here.  

A shout out goes to my friend Chuck who brought it to my attention as it was a topic on the Mike Rosen show on 850 KOA.  If you are still unclear what this all meant, this show can be listened to (after you sign up, which is free) at this link (Select Rosen Replay for 3/12/07 Hours 2 and 3)  It’s well worth a listen for educational purposes no matter what side you sit on this issue. Continue reading