Hamilton Electors May Not Get Their Shot Thanks To Colorado Judge
On Tuesday, a judge in Colorado ruled that the two Democratic electors who had sued to be released from the law that requires them to vote as directed by their state’s popular vote had to vote for Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, they will face being replaced. It was a setback for the so-called “Hamilton Electors,” a group of electors campaigning to allow the Electoral College to exercise what they believe is their Constitutional right to review the popular vote result from their state, and if necessary, cast their vote for someone else.
In a last-ditch effort to prevent a Donald Trump presidency, anti-Trump forces have been trying to convince the 306 members of the Electoral College whose states voted for Trump to vote for someone else, on the grounds that Trump is unfit for office and that the election was influenced by Russian hacking. The problem is that in 29 states and Washington, D.C., electors are bound by law to vote for the candidate they’re pledged to. In several of those states, electors who “faithlessly” don’t vote for that candidate are immediately replaced. The suit in Colorado, where Clinton won the popular vote, was meant to help unbind electors all over the country, increasing the chance that the Hamilton Electors could get the 37 Republican defections needed to prevent Trump’s Electoral College win.
But the judge’s decision is not necessarily the end of the Hamilton Electors’ campaign. There are still 21 states that do not have laws binding their electors, and among those states are 155 electoral votes for Donald Trump, so the mathematical possibility of a thrown Electoral College is still very real. The bigger challenge is that so far, the only Republican elector to publicly declare his defection is Chris Suprun of Texas. (The Lone Star State does not have a law binding electors.)
Larry Lessig, a constitutional law professor from Harvard University, claimed that at least 20 Republican electors are considering defecting from Trump. Lessig, who dipped his toe into the 2016 Democratic primary, established the “Electors Trust,” offering pro-bono legal counsel to electors who are considering voting for someone else. “Obviously, whether an elector ultimately votes his or her conscience will depend in part upon whether there are enough doing the same,” Lessig told Politico.
Considering how in any other year, the official Electoral College vote would be a ceremonial non-event, many will be watching Monday’s vote closely.