DENVER — Those planning to move to a newly created 51st state carved from secession-minded rural counties in Northern Colorado may want to hold off on renting the U-Haul.
Early election results showed the campaign trailing in three of the 11 counties voting on pro-secession measures — though the proposal was leading in one county.
In the largest county, Weld County, the proposal was losing by 58 percent to 42 percent with about 52,000 votes counted.
In Elbert County, the measure was losing by the same margin, 58 percent to 42 percent, with roughly 8,000 votes counted. The initiative also was going down to defeat in Sedgwick County, by 57 percent to 43 percent with about 1,000 votes counted.
In tiny Kit Carson County, the measure was winning by 52 percent to 48 percent with about 2,000 votes counted.
The measures ask voters if they support directing their county commissioners to pursue the formation of a new state, tentatively called North Colorado. All 11 counties with the measures on the ballot are heavily agricultural and near the Wyoming border.
Supporters launched the 51st state movement in response to the Democrat-controlled state legislature's "war on rural Colorado," which included bills doubling the renewable-energy mandate on rural communities and restricting access to firearms and ammunition.
Even with voter approval, backers of the 51st state movement have their work cut out for them. First, the state General Assembly and then Congress would need to approve the formation of a state, according to Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.
Critics argue that the effort is pointless and possibly unlawful, but organizers insist that the campaign is viable.
Five states originally began as parts of other states. West Virginia was the last state to break off, in 1863.
Organizers also say the campaign is needed to send a message to Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and the state's population center along the Denver-Boulder corridor.
"Our kids deserve a better future," said a statement on the 51st State Initiative website. "They deserve a future filled with opportunities not impeded by a government that has no respect for the rural lifestyle."
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