Two presidential electors in Colorado filed a lawsuit in a federal court on Tuesday challenging a state law that requires electors to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote. According to Jason Wesoky, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of Democratic electors Polly Baca (a former state lawmaker) and Robert Nemanich, the electors want to “vote their conscience and do their constitutional duty as intended by the framers.”
The Denver Post reports that Baca and Nemanich are among a group of electors called “Moral Electors” who have been campaigning openly to convince Republican electors in other states to join them in a decision to vote for a third-party candidate as a way of preventing Donald Trump from receiving 270 Electoral College votes.
The effort started after Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate who the two Democratic electors had pledged to support, won Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes in the 2016 general election. Baca and Nemanich offered to shift their votes from Clinton to a third-party consensus pick as part of moves to convince other Republican electors to do likewise and block Trump from making it to the White House.
The effort to persuade Republican electors in other states to support a different candidate than Donald Trump is being spearheaded by Michael Baca, a Denver Democrat and member of Colorado’s Electoral College delegation.
Baca and other Moral Electors are trying to convince at least 37 Republican electors to vote against Trump, saying it would prevent him from receiving the 270 electoral votes he needs to secure the presidency. The success of the effort would leave the final decision to the House of Representatives.
Although Baca, a Bernie Sanders supporter, admitted that he had considered voting for Hillary Clinton, he eventually offered to support a Republican candidate if it would help to stop Trump, Denverite reports.
“This is not about Hillary. This is about trying to stop Donald Trump,” he said.
Colorado Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams responded swiftly to the lawsuit by reminding the Moral Electors that Colorado is one of 29 states and Washington, D.C., that have laws intended to compel electors to vote to validate the popular vote.
Williams accused the electors of succumbing to “cabal, intrigue and corruption” and threatened to replace them if they fulfill their threat to vote for a third-party candidate.
“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.
“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,” Williams said. “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 continued. “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.'”
But Baca and Nemanich responded, arguing that the threat to replace them violates the U.S. Constitution.
Their lawsuit summarizes their position.
“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. 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.”
Meanwhile, Ohio Governor John Kasich has issued a statement asking electors not to support the Moral Electors movement by voting for him as an alternative to Trump.
Analysts agree that the effort by the Moral Electors to stop Trump from winning the presidency is unlikely to succeed. But the move by the “Moral Electors” to challenge Colorado law on the grounds that it prohibits them from “voting their conscience” is being followed with keen interest by legal experts.
The Moral Electors argued that Colorado’s law violates the 1st, 12th and 14th amendments that establish the process for electing a president while assuring equal protection.
The lawsuit cited Ray v. Blair, 1952, where the plaintiffs said that the Supreme Court did not address the issue whether a state can force electors to vote against their conscience or impose penalties for not voting as required.
But Williams insisted that the oath under which electors perform their duty makes them public officers, and if they fail to perform it, they could be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
According to the Denver Post, 24-year-old Michael Baca, a graduate student at Northern Arizona University and a Marine Corps veteran, has also admitted it is unlikely that Moral Electors would be able to block Trump.
“This is a long shot; it’s a pipe dream,” he reportedly said.
[Featured Image by Gerry Broome/AP Images]