The Washington Post

Colorado’s 51st state movement failed, but 43,900 people still wanted to secede

A welcome sign on display at the History Colorado Center in Denver. (Cyrus McCrimmon/Denver Post/AP)

Nearly 100,000 Colorado voters were asked on Tuesday whether they wanted to secede from their state and nearly half said yes.

That question was posed to voters in 11 rural Colorado counties, with 96,993 voters having weighed in, according to official results compiled by The Denver Post. Five counties voted for secession — and to create the 51st state — while six said no thanks.

The movement ramped up over the summer as local officials in the rural counties began sharing their frustrations with the state legislature’s passage of firearm restrictions, oil and gas regulations, and renewable energy mandates.

“At the end of the day what people in a lot of the counties, particularly my county, tell me was ‘we recognize the problem, we think it is a problem, we need to find solutions to the problem.’ But this is not one solution that they think we should pursue,” said Commissioner Sean Conway of the Weld County Board. The measure in his county failed in a 56.3 percent to 43.6 percent vote.

Overall, 43,900 people supported secession, while 53,093 opposed it, translating roughly to a 45 percent to 55 percent vote.

While voters may have turned down the idea of seceding, Tuesday’s vote showed state legislators that they have to address the concerns of rural communities, Conway says.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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