Anti-Trump elec­tors sue state

Sec­re­tary of state calls plain­tiffs’ ac­tion “evil” and ”ar­ro­gant,” vows to fight back

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John Frank

Two Colorado pres­i­den­tial elec­tors Tues­day filed a law­suit in fed­eral court chal­leng­ing a state law that re­quires them to vote for the win­ner of the state’s pop­u­lar vote.

The move is part of the long­shot ef­fort to use the Elec­toral Col­lege vote to block Don­ald Trump from win­ning the pres­i­dency.

Two Demo­cratic elec­tors who pledged to sup­port Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton — the win­ner of the state’s nine Elec­toral Col­lege votes — now want to “vote their con­science and do their con­sti­tu­tional duty as in­tended by the framers,” said Ja­son We­soky, the at­tor­ney who filed the suit.

Polly Baca, a for­mer state law­maker, and Robert Ne­manich are among the “Moral Elec­tors” hop­ing to per­suade Repub­li­can elec­tors in other states to vote for a third-party can­di­date to keep Trump from re­ceiv­ing 270 elec­toral votes — and of­fer­ing to shift their Demo­cratic votes to a con­sen­sus pick.

An­other Colorado elec­tor, Micheal Baca, who is not part of the law­suit, is work­ing with elec­tors in other states to help push what they call the “Moral Elec­tors” move­ment.

Colorado law pro­hibits them from shift­ing their al­le­giances,

and Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Wayne Wil­liams has pledged to re­place them if they do so — two moves the elec­tors ar­gue vi­o­late the U.S. Constitution.

“Though Hil­lary Clin­ton and Ti­mothy Kaine won the ma­jor­ity vote in Colorado and are qual­i­fied for of­fice, plain­tiffs can­not be con­sti­tu­tion­ally com­pelled to vote for them,” the law­suit states. “Plain­tiffs are en­ti­tled to ex­er­cise their judg­ment and free will to vote for whomever they be­lieve to be the most qual­i­fied and fit for the of­fices of pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent, whether those can­di­dates are Democrats, Repub­li­cans or from a third-party.”

Wil­liams re­sponded with an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally sharp re­tort, vow­ing to de­fend Colorado’s law and sug­gest­ing that the elec­tors “suc­cumbed to ca­bal, in­trigue and cor­rup­tion.”

“In­stead of hon­or­ing the will of the Coloradans who voted for them, these two faithless elec­tors seek to con­spire with elec­tors from other states to elect a pres­i­dent who did not re­ceive a sin­gle vote in Novem­ber,” Wil­liams said in a state­ment.

He con­tin­ued: “Make no mis­take, this is not some no­ble ef­fort to fight some un­just or un­con­sti­tu­tional law; rather, this is an ar­ro­gant at­tempt by two faithless elec­tors to el­e­vate their per­sonal de­sires over the en­tire will of the peo­ple of Colorado. And in so do­ing, they seek to vi­o­late Colorado law and their own pledges.

“The very no­tion of two Colorado elec­tors ig­nor­ing Colorado’s pop­u­lar vote in an ef­fort to sell their vote to elec­tors in other states is odi­ous to ev­ery­thing we hold dear about the right to vote,” Wil­liams said. “It is this type of evil that Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt warned us about when he cau­tioned that vot­ers – not elected of­fi­cials such as these faithless elec­tors – are ‘the ul­ti­mate rulers of our democ­racy.’”

One po­ten­tial can­di­date as an al­ter­na­tive to Trump is Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich. But he is­sued a state­ment Tues­day telling elec­tors not to vote for him.

The ef­fort to pre­vent Trump from tak­ing the White House is not likely to suc­ceed, but the chal­lenge to Colorado’s law could prove more in­ter­est­ing.

The elec­tors be­lieve the state law vi­o­lates their First Amend­ment rights as well the 12th and 14th amend­ments, which re­spec­tively out­line the process for elect­ing a pres­i­dent and guar­an­tee­ing equal pro­tec­tion.

The law­suit points to the Ray v. Blair case in 1952, where the plain­tiffs ar­gue that the U.S. Supreme Court left open the ques­tion about whether states can com­pel elec­tors to vote or im­pose penal­ties.

The sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice ar­gues that when an elec­tor takes the oath Dec. 19 — when the Elec­toral Col­lege meets — they be­come pub­lic of­fi­cers. And if they fail to meet their pub­lic duty un­der the law, they could be sub­ject to a mis­de­meanor crim­i­nal charge.

Gov. John Hick­en­looper, a Demo­crat, and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Cyn­thia Coff­man, a Repub­li­can, also are named as de­fen­dants in the law­suit. Both de­clined to com­ment.

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