6 of 11 rural Colorado counties say no to forming 51st state

FORT LUPTON, Colo. - The largely symbolic effort to form a 51st state called North Colorado has fizzled.

Voters in 6 of the 11 rural counties that were voting on whether to ask their commissioners to pursue creating a new state have said no.

The movement is fueled by supporters' frustration with state government's focus on growing urban areas.

Voters in several northeast and eastern Colorado counties were not asked if they want to secede, but rather if they want their county commissioners to pursue the idea. Voters in Moffat County, on the Western Slope, are also voting on the idea.

The question on the ballot read: "Shall the Board of County Commissioners of ___ County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?"

As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, voters in Elbert, Lincoln, Logan, Weld, Sedgwick and Moffat counties were voting against pursuing secession. Kit Carson, Washington, Yuma, Phillips and Cheyenne counties voted to ask their commissioners to seek joining a new state.

The solid "No" vote in Weld County -- 30,562 to 22,313 -- was a sharp rebuke of commissioners in the most populous of the counties weighing secession. Weld County commissioners led the charge to secede, saying they were pursuing the idea because they felt agriculture, oil and gas exploration are under attack in the State Legislature, and the needs of rural Colorado counties were being ignored.

While the 51st state proposal failed to win broad support Tuesday night, organizers say their grassroots crusade will have a lasting legacy.

They are already backing a new initiative. They want to model the State Senate after the United States Senate, where counties would be given equal representation -- regardless of population size.

They also hope to find statewide candidates who understand and support rural issues.

"Certainly, in the 2014 election cycle, people running for office -- urban and rural -- must have good information about the urban vs. rural divide," said 51st state spokesman Jeff Hare.

"To your critics, some who may even be your own constituents, who say this was a waste of time, a publicity stunt, what do you have to say?" asked 7NEWS Reporter Marc Stewart.

"I'd say that can't be farther from the truth," said Weld County commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.  "I don't think it's ever a waste of time to listen to the citizens and that's what we did."

The results as of 9:40 p.m.

Cheyenne  --  No: 37.7% Yes: 62.2%

Elbert -- No: 58%  Yes: 42%

Lincoln  --  No: 55% Yes: 45%

Logan  --  No: 58% Yes: 42%

Kit Carson ­ -- No: 48% Yes: 52%

Phillips --  No: 37.7%  Yes: 62.2%

Sedgwick  --  No: 57%  Yes: 43%

Washington  --  No: 42%  Yes: 58%

Weld  --  No: 58%. Yes: 42%.

Yuma  --  No: 18.5% Yes: 81.4%  

Moffat  --  No: 54.7%  Yes: 42.2%

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