History to be made today with Electoral College vote

Update:  The Colorado-born attempt to inspire a national revolt in the Electoral College failed this afternoon, as eight of Colorado’s nine electors cast their ballots as mandated by state law for the winner of the popular vote here — Hillary Rodham Clinton. The ninth elector, Micheal Baca, refused to vote for Clinton, and was promptly replaced by an alternate who did. Thus, Clinton won all nine of Colorado’s electoral votes.

As the final vote was tallied, calls for the recall of Secretary of State Wayne Williams filled the air. Williams made an 11th-hour addition to the state’s election rules, requiring electors to take an oath declaring they would cast their ballots for the winner of the popular vote in the state. The new language also included a mandate requiring electors to vote accordingly. Those who refused to do either were to be replaced by alternates chosen by the remaining electors. The changes went into effect immediately. 

No elector from Colorado has ever defied state law to vote from someone other than the winner of the popular vote here.

Today, Micheal Baca could be the first. According to backers of the Hamilton Electors, Baca intends to vote for someone other than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who won Colorado in the Nov. 8 election.

The 538 members of the Electoral College will meet today to put their stamp on the presidential race. Colorado’s nine electors will meet at the state Capitol at noon to vote, a decision expected to draw hundreds of observers, a rarity for an Electoral College vote. All nine are Democrats because Clinton won the state.

Conventional wisdom says Republican presidential nominee and President-elect Donald Trump will emerge the winner, but it would take only 37 Republicans to vote for someone other than Trump to change history on a nationwide level. According to the Washington Post, electors across the country have been bombarded with emails and phone calls beseeching them to vote for someone other than Trump — or urging them to stay true to their pledges to honor the will of the voters.

On the eve of today’s vote, protesters gathered twice on the steps of the state Capitol, at mid-afternoon to protest Trump. Protesters begged Republican electors to vote against Trump and send the decision about who becomes the 45th president to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trump is projected to pick up 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. If Trump doesn’t pick up at least 270 votes, the House will make the call. Some Hamilton Electors (or faithless electors, depending on your perspective) believe the House would pick someone other than Trump – perhaps Ohio Gov. John Kasich, U.S. Sen. John McCain or former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Kasich has made clear he is not interested in stepping into this fray.

Related: Kasich still the choice for Hamilton Electors

Sunday night, the Hamilton Electors and their supporters organized a “Vigil for America,” a nationwide gathering at all 50 state capitols. Tom Hancock of the Highlands neighborhood lead the vigil on a chilly night on the west steps of the state Capitol in Denver. Hancock, who carried a sign saying “Send it to the House,” told The Colorado Independent he was a registered Republican until this summer, when concerns about Trump prompted him to change his party registration to unaffiliated. He spent the rest of the election season working on the campaign of Republican Evan McMullin of Utah.

The biggest question for today, though, as Hancock sees it, is whether Baca will be alone among Colorado electors in voting for someone other than Clinton. Former state Sen. Polly Baca of Denver and Bob Nemanich of Colorado Springs both sued the state, asking the court to declare the law that binds electors to the state’s presidential contest winner unconstitutional. A district court sided with the state, and the Colorado Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear the case, leaving the lower court decision in place.

Related: Judge rejects Electoral College injunction in Colorado: ‘A political stunt’

But Hancock believes that Micheal Baca may be the only elector who will vote for someone other than Clinton. Former Sen. Baca doesn’t want to go to jail, Hancock said, although Micheal Baca is ready to do so if it comes to that. Micheal Baca was enroute to Denver from Washington, D.C. early this morning and could not be reached.

Related: Countdown to Monday’s Electoral College vote: What will Colorado’s electors do?

Phoenix St. Nolde of Denver-based Community for Unity was one of 20 or so protesters at the state Capitol last night. “I”m very hopeful that anyone else is elected besides Donald Trump,” St. Nolde told The Independent. “He has shown he is unfit to be president and unsafe. This is their chance to get him out.”

“I’m hopeful they’ll vote their conscience tomorrow.”
Photo credit: Marianne Goodland, The Colorado Independent

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.