Denver, Colorado District Judge Elizabeth Starrs has ruled against the state’s “faithless” electors who sought to defy the voters’ will by using Electoral Votes for Hillary Clinton to prevent President-elect Donald Trump from ascending to the White House.
The judge reportedly warned they could face criminal charges if they defy her court order.
“If [presidential electors] take the oath and then they violate the statute, there will be repercussions,” Starrs said in an order from the bench, according to the Denver Post. The phrase “faithless” electors refers to individuals who break away from the party’s pledged candidate and who refuse to vote for their state’s choice candidate.
In this case, Hillary Clinton won Colorado and gained nine Electoral College votes. Judge Starr’s order means those nine electors must vote for Clinton and could face replacement, and possibly jail time, if they fail to do so.
The electors in each state will meet and cast their votes for the president and vice president on separate ballots on Monday, December 19.
Judge Starr’s ruling was in response to two Democrats among the state’s nine electors who had sued in an attempt to be freed from laws binding them to vote for the candidate who won their state’s popular vote, so they could join other Republican electors who are allegedly attempting to block Trump.
Judge Starr’s court order reportedly also granted authority to Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams to replace electors — collectively referring to themselves as the “Hamilton Electors” movement — who violate the law. (The phrase “Hamilton” Electors is a reference to Alexander Hamilton’s argument in Federalist No. 68 that the Electoral College would be a special, elite deliberative body: “A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”)
Some of the “faithless” electors are taking cues from Harvard University constitutional law professor and former 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Larry Lessig, who is offering pro-bono legal counsel to Republican electors who are considering blocking Trump, through his anti-Trump non-profit known as the “Elector’s Trust.”
On Tuesday, Lessig claimed that he has up to 20 Republican electoral college voters who plan on voting against Trump in order to block his confirmation as America’s 45th president, saying, “We now believe there are more than half the number needed to change the result seriously considering making that vote.”
However, only one “faithless” Republican Electoral College member, Chris Suprun of Texas, has publicly declared that he would vote for someone other than Trump. Texas state law does not mandate that the electors vote for the winner of the state.
To block a Trump presidency, 37 electors would have to vote against him. A person needs to achieve 270 votes to win in the Electoral College. Trump has won 306 Electoral College votes. Clinton won 232.
Lessig’s claims contradict the assertions of sources within the Republican National Committee who reportedly say they are calling and monitoring the social media accounts of electors who are in question.
Although a few Republican electors have been critical of Trump, they still intend to vote for him. Oklahoma GOP elector Charlie Potts, for example, told Politico, “I would prefer that another person had been nominated by the Republican Party and had won the election, but am I going to go against 14 million [primary voters] who voted for Trump? And am I going to vote against all the people in Oklahoma who voted two-to-one for Trump? No, that’s just stupid.”
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