Five of 11 Colorado counties voted by strong margins Tuesday in favor of seceding from the state, the Denver Post reported.
Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Phillips, Washington, and Yuma counties voted for a 51st State Initiative, according to the Post. Voters in Weld County, the most populous of the counties that put a 51st state question on the ballot, resoundingly rejected secession 58 percent to 42 percent.
Secession advocates in those counties, almost all of which are located in the rural northeast of Colorado, cite a litany of policy differences with their state lawmakers in urban Denver. They oppose the state legislatures’ restrictions on guns and the oil and gas industries, as well as expanded energy standards for rural co-ops.
The Denver Post originally reported that six counties had voted in favor of secession. But the newspaper on Wednesday morning corrected that report , saying Sedgwick County had in fact voted against the initiative.
“The heart of the 51st State Initiative is simple: We just want to be left alone to live our lives without heavy-handed restrictions from the state Capitol,” advocate Jeffrey Hare told the Post.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) acknowledged in a statement that those rural counties were suffering, but not at the hands of the state’s popular gun control legislation or renewable energy standards, according to CNN.
“There may be a political agenda behind secession I don’t get, because when I think of Colorado, it means all of our diverse communities and people,” Hickenlooper said in the statement, as quoted by CNN. “I can’t imagine Colorado being Colorado without the Eastern Plains. If this talk of a 51st state is about politics designed to divide us, it is destructive. But if it is about sending a message, then I see our responsibility to lean in and do a better job of listening.”
The 51st State Initiative would require the approval of the state legislature and U.S. Congress to succeed. As the Post points out, the last time a state willingly ceded territory was when Maine split from Massachusetts in 1820.
This post has been updated.
Image via shutterstock / spirit of america