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District Court: Colorado presidential electors bound by state law to echo popular vote

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Colorado [official website] on Wednesday ruled [order PDF] that Colorado may bind its presidential electors to cast their votes for the winner of the state's popular vote.

Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel held [opinion PDF] that states "have the power to attach conditions to the electors' appointment," and that Supreme Court precedent establishes that power as plenary. The opinion rejected the plaintiffs' argument that there is a constitutional distinction "between the power to appoint ... electors and the power to control them." Accordingly, Daniel found "not only that plaintiffs lack standing but that their claims fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," and that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate an injury beyond an "abstract outrage."

Plaintiffs Polly Baca, Michael Baca and Robert Nemanich, alleged that Secretary of State Wayne Williams [official website] violated their constitutional rights by enforcing state law [statute, PDF] which orders electors to vote for the winner of the Colorado popular vote. Two of the electors ultimately voted for Hillary Clinton, but claimed they only did so under duress. The third refused to comply and was replaced with an alternate elector by Williams. All claim that the law infringed on their right to vote their conscience.

In 2016, prior to voting, the plaintiffs failed to receive an emergency injunction to prevent Williams from enforcing the Colorado law. The plaintiffs were represented and backed by Equal Citizens [advocacy website]. Jason Harrow, the chief counsel for Equal Citizens, promised [Denver Post report] to appeal the ruling. "[T]his decision is only the first word in our case.... On to the Court of Appeals."

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