DENVER – Colorado electors in the Electoral College must cast ballots for the winner of the state’s popular vote, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case filed by three dissident electors who sought to vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
It was a second setback for Polly Baca, Micheal Baca and Robert Nemanich, who objected in an earlier federal lawsuit to a state requirement that they vote for Clinton. They sued Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, arguing that his enforcement of the law interfered with their freedom of speech.
Senior U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel rejected their argument.
Clinton defeated Trump in Colorado by 5 percent of the vote. The three Colorado electors were part of a group across the country that tried to convince colleagues to vote for someone other than Clinton or Trump and hand the election to a compromise candidate.
Williams removed Micheal Baca, a Bernie Sanders supporter, for trying to vote for Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich at an electors’ meeting at the state Capitol ahead of the Electoral College. A substitute elector voted for Clinton. Polly Baca and Nemanich ultimately cast their votes for Clinton, as did Colorado’s six other electors.
Jason Harrow, chief counsel for Equal Citizens, a Washington, D.C.-based activist group that filed the lawsuit, said he would appeal.
Harrow said in a statement that Daniels’ opinion ignores “compelling evidence that the framers of the Constitution intended presidential electors to be able to exercise independent judgment in casting their votes for president of the United States.”
A Denver judge first ruled against Polly Baca and Nemanich before the Electoral College ratified Donald Trump’s election in December 2016. That ruling effectively stopped Colorado’s electors from joining a longshot effort to unite with Republicans behind a compromise presidential candidate.
The state Supreme Court upheld that ruling.
At the Electoral College, Trump won 306 electors, exceeding the 270 needed to put him in the White House.
Some 28 other states have laws binding their electors to the winner of the popular vote.
This story has been corrected to show that Daniel does not sit on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.