In An Effort To Oust Trump, Colorado Electors File Federal Lawsuit

December 14, 2016
Sen. Polly BacaSen. Polly Baca Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage
Sen. Polly Baca

Two members of Colorado’s Electoral College filed a lawsuit (PDF) in federal court on Dec. 6 in an effort to unseat President-elect Donald Trump. The suit challenges laws that require Electoral College members in 29 states to vote for candidates that won the popular vote in their states.  

The aim is to help electors who want to oust Republican Trump by allowing them to vote for other candidates -- either Democratic or Republican. Under current state law, electors who vote against the popular vote could face a misdemeanor. The Electoral College votes on Dec. 19.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, is adamantly opposed to the lawsuit.

“Make no mistake, this is not some noble effort to fight some unjust or unconstitutional law,” Williams said. “Rather, this is an arrogant attempt by two faithless electors to elevate their personal desires over the entire will of the people of Colorado.”

Those two electors are former Democratic state Sen. Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich, a math teacher from Colorado Springs. They argue that electors should not be forced to vote for Clinton just because she won the popular vote in Colorado. Instead, the electors seek to back any other Republican than Trump for president in an effort to join with like-minded electors from around the country.

The state has nine votes to cast in the Electoral College. Backers of the suit say if there are enough electors like Baca and Nemanich, it could tip the election away from Trump. In an editorial written for The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based news organization, Baca said that the lawsuit was worth the effort.

“Electors of good conscience should exercise their constitutional right to elect the best person for the job of president or simply abstain from voting for either of the major party candidates,” said Baca. “If no candidate gets to 270 Electoral College votes [the number required to elect a president], then the decision will go to the House of Representatives, as it has happened twice in our nation’s history.

“Therefore, in order to uphold our sworn duty to preserve the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, we have been organizing electors across the country to reject Trump at the Electoral College and replace him with a responsible and qualified alternative.”

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.

Copyright 2016 KUNC-FM. To see more, visit KUNC-FM.

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