Mixed Verdict For Colorado Seccession Referendum

North Colorado

As I noted yesterday, some 11 counties in Colorado held a referendum yesterday on the question of whether to pursue the idea of seceding from the state. As it turned out, the measure failed in a majority of the counties it was held in:

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said the 51st state movement is halted — at least in his county — but there were positive benefits from the secession campaign.

“Weld County voters said this is an option we shouldn’t pursue and we won’t pursue it,” Conway said Tuesday night. “But we will continue to look at the problems of the urban and rural divide in this state.”

Weld County voters Tuesday soundly rejected the 51st State Initiative 58 percent to 42 percent.

But in five of the 11 counties where the secession question appeared on the ballot, the measure passed by strong margins.

In Kit Carson County, 52 percent of voters directed county commissioners to explore secession and 48 percent voted against. In Washington County, 58 percent were for the initiative and 42 percent against.

Phillips County went 62 percent for and 38 against; Sedgwick went 57 percent against and 42.9 percent for; Cheyenne County voters cast 62 percent of ballots for and 37.7 against; and in Yuma County, 59 percent of the vote went for the breakaway and 41 percent against.

In Moffat County, the question failed, with 54.8 percent voting against secession. In Elbert County, 74 percent of voters said “no” to the idea of breaking away. In Lincoln County, 55.5 percent voted against.

The ballot question, intended as a straw poll, asked residents whether their county commissioners should takes steps to secede from the Centennial State.

Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton said Tuesday night that secession probably would not succeed. But he said the publicity would shed light on rural Colorado’s grievances.

“We not only want to be at the table,” he said, “but we want a voice at the table as well.”

So, don’t go investing in 51-star flags or anything.

FILED UNDER: 2013 Election, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Like we were ever going to allow a handful of farmers in the middle of nowhere to have two US Senators.

  2. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    They have a voice at the table. They’re just irritated that it turns out their voice wasn’t a majority in the state as a whole, and think their voice should count for more than everyone else’s.

  3. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds: We already did – it’s called Wyoming.

  4. CSK says:

    So the secessionists voted against seceding? Insofar as exercises in futility go, this one really takes the cake. It’s comic if you think about it. Five counties decide they want to secede, and then vote not to secede.

    Maybe it wasn’t an exercise in futility. Maybe it was a manifestation of multiple personality disorder. How does this get them taken seriously as a voice at the table? I mean, they voted against themselves.

    Oh, never mind. It’s five-thirty. Time for a vodka martini.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    As Michael and others have said – we do not need another state with virtually no population and 2 senators. Frankly, I’d let them leave the country, but not become a state.

  6. Nightrider says:

    There are only 8 counties inside the red box, and the story erroneously says that Sedgwick voted against.

  7. dazedandconfused says:

    Secession doesn’t necessarily mean from the US, it can be from a State. They could ask for US Territorial status to escape Colorado’s government, and then apply for annexation into Nebraska by the look of it.

    Sometimes (sub?)urbaners carelessly craft great (to their eyes) looking laws which devastate a few rural people. Sometimes those laws are based on a bunch of false assumptions too. Even ridiculous ones.

    It happens.