Judge Rules Against Colorado ‘Hamilton Electors’ Who Want To Deny Trump The Presidency
Update, 12.13.2016: The lawyer representing the electors has filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. You can read the appeal here, our original story continues below.
A federal judge on Monday denied a request from two Coloradans on the Electoral College to be freed from a state law that requires them to vote for Hillary Clinton.
The so-called Hamilton Electors, Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich, are part of a national movement to try and head off Donald Trump’s anticipated victory when the Electoral College meets next Monday. Their goal is to form a national coalition of Republican and Democratic electors, who would vote for a compromise candidate and deny Trump the presidency.
They filed a lawsuit Dec. 6 against Gov. John Hickenlooper, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Secretary of State Wayne Williams. The lawsuit argued that it’s unconstitutional to dictate how a Colorado presidential elector votes, and that electors should be able to cast their ballot for whomever they believe to be the “best and most qualified” for president and vice-president.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams was critical of the lawsuit, calling it arrogant and odious. Williams accuses the electors of trying to elevate their own personal will above that of Colorado's voters. And on Monday, lawyers for President-elect Donald Trump filed documents to become involved in the lawsuit, the Associated Press reported.
The court papers filed by Christopher Murray, a veteran Colorado Republican attorney representing Trump, contend the lawsuit “threatens to undermine the many laws in other states that sensibly bind their electors’ votes to represent the will of the citizens, undermining the Electoral College in the process.”
There is no federal law that controls how presidential electors vote, but Colorado law says they must vote the will of the people -- or be removed and replaced. Since the state’s popular vote went to Hillary Clinton, the nine Electoral College members are required to cast their ballots for the former Secretary of State.
If all 538 U.S. electors vote in line with their state’s popular vote, Trump will secure the nomination with 306 electoral votes, clearing the winning threshold of 270. Clinton would receive 232. Baca and Nemanich say they are willing to cast their Clinton votes for a compromise Republican candidate instead, if Colorado law would allow it. Baca might not agree with Republican policies, but she feels electors could work together to find a candidate that is more qualified and honest.
"This is a very unique situation where the Electoral College really needs to perform their constitutional duty,” Baca said in an interview with CPR.
Baca argues the original intent of the Electoral College was to provide a safeguard to the election process, and electors were put in place to be used as a check of the popular vote.
This stance has earned Baca, Nemanich and other rogue electors the nickname of the “Hamilton Electors.” Alexander Hamilton wrote in “The Federalist Papers: No. 68” that having an Electoral College would put the final decision of who becomes president in the hands of “Men most capable of analysing the qualities adapted to the station,” which would prevent individuals who are unfit to take office.
"That's why you have an Electoral College,” Baca said. “And if we cannot use it in the way it was intended, then why have it? There's no reason for it."
With the announcement from the CIA, concluding that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump with the presidency, 10 members if the Electoral College have sent a letter to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, asking to be debriefed on the investigation.
Colorado presidential elector Micheal Baca (no relation to Polly Baca) signed the letter, which says the debrief is imperative to “investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for in the Electoral College.”
The letter quotes Hamilton, saying that the Electoral College was to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” Trump has denounced the CIA’s conclusion, telling Fox News that it’s “ridiculous.”
For his part, Michael Baca was defiant after the judge's ruling.
"I do intend to cast my vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kane," Michael Baca said. "I will accept those punishments, and if going to jail is necessary, I will do it."
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