LISTEN LIVE: Supreme Court Hears Election Year Colorado Case Over ‘Faithless Electors’

The Supreme Court will take up an unusual voting issue that could have important consequences for the 2020 presidential election in an era of intense political polarization.

Wednesday is the court’s final day of its historic run of arguments by telephone in May with livestreamed audio.

Colorado Department of State v. Baca Oral Arguments begin at 9:00 a.m. MDT

The two cases justices will hear deal with whether presidential electors are bound to support popular-vote winners in their states or can opt for someone else. So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a contest with a razor-thin margin.

State Attorney General Phil Weiser will argue that Colorado has the right to run its own elections and require that its presidential electors vote for the candidate the state's voters picked on Election Day. Lawyers for former elector Micheal Baca will argue that the Constitution allows him the freedom to vote for who he wants for president — even if that's a different candidate than chosen by the state's voters.

The Colorado case comes stems from actions in 2016 when Colorado removed an elector who refused to cast his vote for Hillary Clinton. Colorado voters picked Clinton to get the electoral college votes. But Micheal Baca attempted to vote for then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich instead, in an attempt to keep President-elect Donald Trump out of office.

A lower court said the state was right to remove Baca, but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision and said presidential electors may choose whichever candidate they want no matter who Colorado voters chose.

In Washington's case, their state Supreme Court upheld the fine levied against the two electors who refused to vote for Hillary Clinton and rejected their claims.

In all, there were 10 faithless electors in 2016, including a fourth in Washington, a Democratic elector in Hawaii and two Republican electors in Texas. In addition, Democratic electors who said they would not vote for Clinton were replaced in Maine and Minnesota.

CPR Reporters Allison Sherry, Bente Birkeland and Hayley Sanchez contributed to this report.

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