Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Judge: Electors must cast votes for Clinton or face the consequences

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 4:29 PM

Editor's note: This story first appeared in The Colorado Independent.

DENVER — An attorney representing the state grilled two members of Colorado’s Electoral College in a downtown Denver courtroom Tuesday, asking whether they intend to violate a state law that says they must cast their ballots for the presidential candidate who won the state.

Since Election Day, electors Polly Baca of Denver and Bob Nemanich of Colorado Springs have been part of a Hail Mary effort to block Donald Trump from the White House by voting for someone else — and persuading their fellow electors to do the same. Because more national electors are Republicans, the alternative likely would have to be a Republican.

But as a Monday deadline for the national electoral vote looms, these electors have begun to look like martyrs for what they see as the true function of the Electoral College: The right to vote their consciences.
Hamilton electors are trying to keep Trump out the White House. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • Hamilton electors are trying to keep Trump out the White House.

Citing the writings of Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, Baca and Nemanich say just because the Electoral College has never had to break the glass in case of emergency doesn’t mean the glass is shatterproof.

And so twice this week, the two Colorado electors found themselves in court.

Yesterday, a federal judge threw out a legal filing by the two electors requesting a hold on enforcement of state law so they could vote their consciences. A federal lawsuit seeking to find the state law unconstitutional, though, is still pending.

Today’s court hearing was in Denver District County court where Secretary of State Wayne Williams asked Judge Elizabeth Starrs to clarify what sanctions the state could impose on the electors should they defy state law. What, state officials asked, could they do with electors who go rogue, something that has never happened in Colorado.

“It’s possible a crime could be committed next week,” Chris Jackson, a lawyer representing the state, told the judge.

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