Residents in rural counties in northern Colorado are working to secede from the rest of the state. So far, 11 counties have ballot initiatives scheduled for a Nov. 5 vote, and residents in 28 others are gathering signatures to put such an initiative on the ballot. Possible names for the proposed new state include New Colorado or North Colorado.
The ballot initiatives are a “non-binding referendum” to “gage support throughout the county,” said Jeffrey Hare, a 51st state initiative leader. Counties are unable to secede from their state, however; Colorado’s government would have to approve the formation of a new state, and it then would have to be admitted to the union by the U.S. Congress.
Hare said residents of Colorado’s northern counties first began considering forming their own state in March, when the state senate approved a series of bills that included requiring universal background checks for gun purchases and limiting ammunition magazine sizes. Then in July, the state passed SB252, a bill that requires rural electricity providers to increase their renewable energy sources. “When SB 252 happened … it became the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Hare said.
The 11 counties which will vote on the referendum to form a new state all voted for Romney in 2012.
Proposals to create new states from existing ones often involve rural conservative counties with populations that feel they are underrepresented in their state governments. In September, a northern California country voted to leave to form its own state with other northern California and southern Oregon counties.
Four states carved out of existing states have been admitted into the union in the past. They are Maine, which was created from Massachusetts; Vermont, which was created from New York and New Hampshire; West Virginia, which was made out of Virginia; and Kentucky, which was made out of Virginia.