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‘Fake electors’ banned under new Colorado law

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats, left, swears in one of Colorado’s nine Democratic presidential electors before he can cast his vote for Joe Biden at the State Capitol on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in downtown Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP Pool)

Gov. Jared Polis signed a new law to explicitly make it illegal to serve as a fake elector in future presidential elections in Colorado.

Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan are prosecuting individuals who submitted certificates naming themselves to the Electoral College based on false claims that former President Donald Trump won those states in the 2020 election.

Backers of Colorado’s new law say the goal is to protect the “fundamental safeguards of democracy” by making it clear that such activities are illegal here.

Democratic Rep. Lorena Garcia of Adams County is one of the bill’s main sponsors and said it’s important to define a fake elector within Colorado’s current criminal code.

“We can take one more step in preventing any sort of attempt to overturn an election in the future. Trump is on the ballot, we can't put anything past him,” she said.

Trump handily lost Colorado in the 2020 presidential election, and Rep. Garcia said she doesn’t expect this November’s election to be any different.

“I'm just glad that we can continue to add to our track record of Colorado being one of the safest places to cast a vote. It's an election system that we can trust,” she said.

The law makes it a crime to conspire to submit a slate of electors to the Secretary of State, the U.S. Congress, or the National Archives that intends to vote for a candidate for president who did not win the popular vote in Colorado. However, Colorado has also signed on to the National Popular Vote Compact. Should that agreement ever take effect, the law would switch. Panels of electors would be required to vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide.

Republican lawmakers opposed the fake elector proposal and dismissed it as an unnecessary partisan messaging bill.

Under the law, participating in a fake elector scheme could result in a $10,000 fine. And if convicted, anyone involved would be barred from running or holding public office in Colorado.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.