A Colorado State Department official has stated that their Elections Division plans to enforce laws that would remove electoral college voters who do not cast their ballot for the candidate chosen by the popular vote. In an email to an elector who had requested the policy in writing, the Secretary of State’s office responded that, should an elector dissent at the convention in December, the office would “likely remove the elector and seat a replacement elector until all nine electoral votes were cast for the winning candidates.”
29 states including Colorado have laws in place that threaten to remove, fine, or prosecute National Electors who cast a dissenting vote. However, because such laws are arguably unconstitutional due to a Supreme Court ruling in 1952, federal law would uphold a dissenting elector’s vote, and any enforcement of these laws by the state would have to occur after the election is decided. Due to the fact that a dissenting vote has never affected the outcome of an election, none of the 157 electors throughout history who have dissented have been prosecuted. With a growing number of electors reporting that they are considering voting out of conscience, this discrepancy between state and federal law may need to be addressed.
The initial inquiry into Colorado’s policy was made by electoral voter Robert Nemanich, who detailed his correspondence with Colorado officials in an impassioned plea to fellow electors to assert their right to cast a dissenting vote. “It is my contention that my fellow 537 National Electors have a great historic burden,” writes Nemanich, adding, “Electors across the nation must be informed that they have free will and that action must be put in play to strike down these laws immediately in the Federal Courts.”
The official statement from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office as well as Robert Nemanich’s report of the incident can be read in full here.