DENVER — A U.S. appeals court in Denver said Electoral College members can vote for the presidential candidate of their choice and aren’t bound by the popular vote in their states.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the Colorado secretary of state violated the Constitution in 2016 when he removed an elector and nullified his vote when the elector refused to cast his ballot for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote.
It was not immediately clear what effect the ruling might have on the Electoral College system, which is established in the Constitution. Voters in each state choose members of the Electoral College, called electors, who are pledged to a presidential candidate. The electors then choose the president.
Most states require electors to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in that state, but the Denver appeals court said the states do not have that authority.
The Constitution allows electors to cast their votes at their own discretion, the ruling said, “and the state does not possess countervailing authority to remove an elector and to cancel his vote in response to the exercise of that Constitutional right.”
The elector at the center of the case, Micheal Baca, was part of a group known as “Hamilton electors” who tried to convince electors who were pledged to Clinton or Donald Trump to unite behind a consensus candidate to deny Trump the presidency.