The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held Wednesday that the State of Colorado violated the rights of a presidential elector who refused to vote for Hillary Clinton, who had won the state.
Michael Baca, the Presidential Elector, was removed by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams when Baca refused to vote for Clinton, which was a direct violation of Colorado Revised Statute § 1-4-304(5). Baca’s refusal to vote for Clinton stemmed from a desire to block Donald Trump from winning the election. Baca voted for John Kasich instead.
The Tenth Circuit held that the Constitution does not grant the State of Colorado the power to interfere with Baca’s right to vote in the manner he deemed best.
The Constitution provides a detailed list of procedures that must be performed by specific actors—not including the states—after appointment. The electors must list all votes cast for President and Vice President, certify that list, and send it to the President of the Senate. Even where an elector violates a state-required pledge to vote for the winners of the state popular election, there is nothing in the federal Constitution that allows the state to remove that elector or to nullify his votes. And in the absence of such express authority, the states may not interfere with the electors’ exercise of discretion in voting for President and Vice President by removing the elector and nullifying his vote. Neither historical practices nor authoritative sources alter our conclusion.
Congress tallied 13 total votes that deviated from the election results. These included votes by presidential electors from Washington, Texas and Hawaii that did not correspond with the outcomes of the state elections.