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After 12 years of being a loyal registered member of the Democratic Party in Colorado, and a decade of working as a party functionary in various roles, I am registering as an unaffiliated voter and joining the ranks of the state’s largest voting population.
It is not because of a policy or personality dispute or otherwise, or because under new laws even unaffiliated voters can now participate in party primaries in Colorado.
Instead, it is because a year ago this week, I and two of my fellow electors in Colorado were denied our constitutionally protected right to vote our consciences when casting our official ballots at the state Capitol in Denver.
Citing state law, Secretary of State Wayne Williams went to extraordinary lengths to bind our votes with virtual handcuffs, regardless of conscience or circumstances. If we were to cast our official ballots during that Dec. 19, 2016 Electoral College vote for anyone other than the winner of Colorado’s popular vote, as state law dictates, we learned we could face charges of felony perjury. The winner of the popular vote in Colorado was Hillary Clinton, a Democrat like me. But as a member of a group who called ourselves the Hamilton Electors, we were trying to deny Donald Trump the presidency by finding an alternative on whom enough Republican national electors could agree.
Williams’s efforts came despite the federal 10th Circuit Appellate Court’s written warning on the matter. In the court’s order, the Appellate Court stated any attempt by Colorado’s Secretary of State to remove electors “after voting has begun” would be “unlikely in light of the text of the Twelfth Amendment.”
Today, two Colorado electors and I are still involved in a federal lawsuit with hopes that the nation’s highest court will ultimately answer the question about whether presidential electors have the ability to vote their consciences before the next presidential election.
Back in December, both partisan sides accused us, the dissenting Hamilton Electors and the Secretary of State, of acting for reasons that were partisan. We electors were accused of trying to find a way to get Hillary Clinton elected through some mechanism in the Electoral College when Republicans held an overwhelming advantage—while Williams was accused of hypocritically protecting the popular vote in Colorado with the goal of ensuring Donald Trump was elected without dissent.
Unfortunately, these days it seems all actions by political players— government officials or citizens alike— can be and are viewed solely under the prism of party partisanship. Mostly it means to sling mud at any or all opponents, including democracy movements. It even is used to attack respected and accomplished neutral professionals, like judges, scientists, prosecutors who are practiced in non-partisan activities—including a special counsel who has been a registered Republican and whose special office possesses a staff of esteemed prosecutors and investigators from all sides of the aisle.
Therefore, I have come to the conscientious decision that as a litigant in our federal lawsuit, as a believer in democracy over partisanship, as a patriot over any political party or ideology, I will be now be registering as an unaffiliated voter, and therefore resigning my official positions within the Democratic Party in Colorado.
This is not a decision I take lightly.
Reactions from some of my fellow party friends and compatriots have not been welcoming. I had volunteered for important party chores, and elected officials and candidates respect my campaign knowledge and abilities. But in my mind the act of voting is far more important than a political initiative or participating in party activities.
To fight for voting equality must be a nonpartisan effort and I see now the only path to resurrecting our nation’s democracy is through the protection of all aspects of voting.
I am now a nonpartisan voter— unaffiliated and independent.