At least 5 rural Colorado counties vote to explore secession

FILE: Jan. 7, 2011: This image shows the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

FILE: Jan. 7, 2011: This image shows the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.  (AP)

Voters in at least five rural Colorado counties decided Tuesday they are done with the state government and want to pursue creating the 51st state of “Northern Colorado.”

Voters in Phillips, Cheyenne, Washington, Yuma and Kit Carson counties voted “yes” on a ballot question that asked if they would like their county commissioners to pursue secession from Colorado, along with commissioners from other counties, according to the Denver Post.

Ten northeastern and one northwestern county had the question on their ballots Tuesday.

The vote means county leadership can embark on what many see as a longshot effort to pursue secession, which would have to be approved by Colorado's Legislature and eventually the U.S. Congress.

The effort was spearheaded by commissioners and residents from Weld County, the state’s third largest county. However, 57 percent of the voters in the county had voted against exploring secession as of Tuesday night, according to the Denver Post.

Weld County resident Jeffrey Hare, the spokesman for the 51st State Initiative, told the movement has grown out of grassroots frustration with a series of bills passed by the Colorado legislature recently, most notably the strict gun control law that led to the recall of two Democratic state lawmakers in September.

“We all asked the question what else can be done,” Hare said.

Weld County Commissioner Douglas Rademacher says several factors will determine if the counties who voted in favor can take the movement all the way to Congress, but it is possible.

“I believe the voice of rural Colorado has been diminished over the past several decades. We feel we need to restore that voice for our residents,” Rademacher said.

Rademacher says other options are being explored to “restore the voice of rural Colorado,” including a bill that will examine how state senators are sent to the Capitol.'s Stephanie McNeal contributed to this report