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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against Secretary of State Wayne Williams

A federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Secretary of State Wayne Williams by three Democratic electors who said their constitutional rights were violated when they were required to vote for the 2016 presidential candidate they had pledged to support.

In Tuesday’s ruling, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel wrote, "Plaintiffs ask this Court to strike down Colorado’s elector statute that codifies the historical understanding and longstanding practice of binding electors to the People’s vote, and to sanction a new system that would render the People’s vote merely advisory."

"I reject this invitation, finding not only that plaintiffs lack standing but that their claims fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," the judge wrote.

Secretary Williams has always contended he simply followed the court’s and the voters’ will. 

The lawsuit stems from the 2016 presidential election when Democrat Hillary Clinton took 48.16 percent of the vote in Colorado to Republican Donald J. Trump’s 43.25 percent. Nationally, she won the popular vote, but Trump won the Electoral College vote. The electoral process in 2016 attracted national attention because of efforts to try to deny Trump the presidency by throwing elector votes to another candidate.

The suit against the Secretary of State’s office was filed by Robert Nemanich, Micheal Baca and Polly Baca, who are not related. They were among Colorado’s nine presidential electors — all Democrats — who met at the state Capitol on Dec. 19th, 2016.

Williams told the electors that Colorado law required them to cast their votes consistent with the will of the people, and a judge already had ruled they could be removed if they did not.  

"According to the binding court decisions faithless electors can be removed, which preserves the votes of the nearly 3 million Coloradans who cast their ballots in the November election," Williams said, when the suit was filed last year "The only thing I asked the electors to do was follow the law."

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