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Colorado AG: State ‘dodged a bullet’ with faithless electors ruling by Supreme Court

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- On Monday, The United States Supreme Court ruled on a landmark decision that says those in the electoral college can only vote in accordance with who the state's residents voted for.

This all started when during the 2016 election, when a few of Colorado's nine electoral college members wanted to vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton who won the majority of the votes in the state. Elector Michael Baca crossed out Clinton's name on his ballot and wrote Republican John Kasich instead. He was told he had to vote for Clinton and was removed as an elector.

Baca's attorneys said Colorado violated Baca's constitutional rights by forcing him to vote for who the people voted for. After years of litigation, the Supreme Court ruled that electors cannot go rogue and vote for whoever they want to.

KRDO spoke to Attorney General Phil Weiser about the ruling.

What was your reaction to the Supreme Courts' decision regarding faithless electors?

Weiser: "This was a great day for Colorado. Our office is delighted and relieved because we put in years of litigation to defend our elections system to ensure every vote could be counted and to avoid what we could have been a constitutional crisis if electors could do whatever they wanted.”

“This case makes it very clear that electors don’t get to do whatever they want. They’ve got a job to do on behalf of the people of Colorado in our case and if they don’t do that job then they will be replaced by someone who will.”

How big of an impact will this decision have on future elections not only in Colorado but across the nation?

Weiser: “We dodged a bullet today for not just Colorado but our entire presidential election system. In the worst version of American history, we'd be arguing about this issue with a presidential election on the line with the spectacle of bribed electors or extorted electors and just mayhem so settling this issue now once and for all giving the states the authority to oversee electors it’s a big win for our democracy.”

Your opponent's argument for this case was electors should have the freedom to choose who to vote for no matter who the state votes for, what are your thoughts on that argument?

Weiser: I was always skeptical of electors getting, if you will, a free agency because electors aren't chosen because they are esteemed, wise individuals. They are chosen because they represent the candidates of people who are voting for them so I found this argument to be impractical, a historical and not supported by the texts of the constitution.”

We also spoke with the attorney who represented Baca, Jason Harrow about the decision.

What was your reaction to the Supreme Courts' decision?

Harrow: My reaction was sort of victory and defeat... because we felt like got really far and objective one was answer this question so there is no uncertainty around the role of presidential electors, we did that. Get the case to the supreme court, highlight the electoral college and what's going on there, we did that. We didn’t get the victory in terms of legally for our client but we think that certainty is the good thing.”

With this ruling, what type of impact do you think it will have on future elections?

Harrow: "The immediate impact is that electors are essentially meaningless. They have no discretion, they can be replaced if they try to exercise and teensy bit of discretion. So they might as well be potted plants and that’s unfortunate, I don’t think that’s what the constitution says but that’s the reality.”

Politics / State & Regional News

Chase Golightly

Chase is a reporter and an anchor for our weekend evening newscasts. Learn more about Chase here.

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Perhaps we can just do away with the old system of the electoral college and actually just go by the popular vote of the people. One less way for the government to interfere with the system that was initially established to protect the people, not hinder or disregard the people. Put the power back in the hands of the people, and take it away from our corrupt corporations and government institutions.
    Fix the system by instituting 3 very simple solutions:
    #1. Make all government positions hold a limit of 2, 4 year terms. 2 terms at Municipal, County, State and Federal levels, no more.
    #2. Severely criminalize lobbying to all government figureheads. Criminally charge both the lobbyist and their corporations / sponsors, but also the politician. If its illegal and unethical for First Responders to take any gratuity, how is it not illegal when our politicians do the same? Is it more acceptable because they wield more power and decision and make more money because of it?
    #3. Do away with the the electoral college.

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