John Frank, Denver Post, December 13, 2016
Colorado presidential electors who do not vote for Hillary Clinton as the winner of the state’s vote risk criminal charges after a Denver judge delivered the second setback in two days to an effort to block Donald Trump from winning the presidency.
Denver District Judge Elizabeth Starrs ruled that state law requires members of the Electoral College, when the body meets at noon Monday, to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates who received the most votes in Colorado.
The order also granted authority to the Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, to replace electors who violate the law — essentially ending Colorado’s role in the “Hamilton Electors” movement to keep Trump from the White House.
“If (presidential electors) take the oath and then they violate the statute, there will be repercussions,” Starrs said in an order from the bench.
Democratic electors in Colorado are threatening to abandon Clinton and partner with Republican electors in other states to nominate an alternative candidate — a last-ditch move to prevent Trump from receiving the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
The Democratic electors were chosen by state party activists at congressional and state conventions in April. Two of the Colorado electors are Bernie Sanders loyalists, and one supports Clinton. But all adamantly argue Trump is unqualified for office.
Moments after the ruling, the two electors who appeared in court Tuesday declined to say how they will vote when the Electoral College meets at the state Capitol.
A day earlier, the electors lost a separate bid in federal court for an injunction to block the enforcement of the state law on the grounds it is an unconstitutional. The electors appealed the case Tuesday to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but it’s unclear whether it will get a hearing before Monday.
Assistant Attorney General Chris Jackson told the judge that the state needed guidance to protect the integrity of the process. “We need an order. … That is the only way to stop these electors from disenfranchising over 3 million voters in Colorado who have made their wishes known through the electoral process,” he said.