Colorado Secretary of State asks judge how to deal with rogue electors

Colorado Secretary of State asks judge how to deal with rogue electors

 

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams filed a legal motion Friday asking a judge to clarify what should happen to members of the Electoral College who defy state law and choose not to cast their ballots for the presidential candidate who won the state.

In a motion to the Denver District Court, Williams filed a petition to “settle a controversy between the Secretary, as an official charged with duties under the Election Code, and the presidential electors, as officers or representatives of a political party.”

In the motion, Williams says at least two of Colorado’s national electors, both Democrats, have indicated they would not vote for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as state law requires. (They argue they can vote for whomever they want, and earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Colorado attacking the state law as unconstitutional.)

The motion, quoted below, asks the court to do a few things:

A. Declare that under C.R.S. § 1-4-304(5), Colorado’s presidential electors are required to vote for the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate who received the most votes in the general election. In 2016, those candidates are Hillary Clinton for president and Timothy Kaine for vice president.

B. Declare that refusal of a presidential elector to cast his or her vote in accordance with C.R.S. § 1-4-304(5) constitutes a “refusal to act,” which creates a vacancy in that presidential elector’s office by operation of law.

C. Declare that if any vacancy in the office of a presidential elector occurs, the remaining presidential electors present shall immediately fill the vacancy by majority vote pursuant to § 1-4-304(1). Determine that the presidential electors may fill any vacancy with any registered elector in the state who is nominated by the Democratic Party of Colorado, the Colorado Secretary of State, the Court, or another party selected by the Court.

D. Declare that presidential electors do not need a quorum to fill the vacancy under § 1-4-304, § 2-4-111, or any other state law.

E. Declare that if no presidential elector acts or if all presidential electors’ offices are vacant, then the Democratic Party of Colorado, the Colorado Secretary of State, the Court, or another party selected by the Court shall immediately fill all vacancies and may select any registered elector nominated by the party designated in request C above.

F. Order the Respondents, and the other presidential electors similarly situated, to substantially comply with the Election Code by casting their Electoral College votes for Hillary Clinton and Timothy Kaine, who are the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate who received the highest number of votes at the preceding presidential election in this state, unless enforcement of § 1-4-304(5) is enjoined by the federal district court; or, alternatively,

G. Enjoin the Respondents to cast their Electoral College votes for Hillary Clinton and Timothy Kaine, unless enforcement of § 1-4-304(5) is enjoined by the federal district court.

H. Grant such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

Late Friday afternoon, Jason Wesoky, a lawyer representing the two electors, former State Sen. Polly Baca of Denver and Bob Nemanich of Colorado Springs, said he had not been notified about the petition, and heard about it from The Colorado Independent.

“The Secretary of State filed this without providing myself or my clients any notice, which is consistent with the adversarial approach the Secretary of State has taken since the outset,” he said. 

His comment is a reference to harsh language Williams used in his response to media about this week’s lawsuit brought by the electors. He called their effort “evil,” “odious,” “arrogant” and part of an “illegal conspiracy,” among other things.

Though they are Democrats, the electors want to vote for someone other than Clinton if they can persuade enough of their fellow 536 other national electors to rally behind an alternative to Donald Trump and keep him from the White House. So far, only a handful have agreed to the plan, seven Democrats from Colorado and Washington state, and one Republican from Texas.

The hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon, said a spokesperson for the secretary of state.

Read the petition here: petition-under-1-1-113-1

Photo courtesy Karen Neoh for Creative Commons on Flickr

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

3 Comments

  1. colbey on said:

    wouldn’t a judge who “declared” all these things for the SoS be legislating from the bench??

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