Press Release



Date: August 15, 2017

Equal Citizens Files Lawsuit Against Colorado Secretary of State for Violating Constitutional Rights of Two Electoral College Electors

BOSTON, MA – Lawrence Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, announced the filing of a lawsuit by EqualCitizens.US on behalf of two Colorado presidential electors against the Colorado Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, for violating their constitutional rights.

According to the suit, Secretary Williams threatened the removal, and possible criminal prosecution, of Robert Nemanich and Polly Baca if they voted their conscience in the 2016 Presidential election. The suit alleges Williams’ threats violated the electors’ rights under the Constitution, as well as under federal law.

“Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich believed the special circumstances of the last election required that they vote their conscience, contrary to a pre-election pledge,” Lessig said. “Secretary Williams took the egregious step of threatening them with removal, as well as criminal prosecution, if they did so.”

“Most legal historians believe that the Framers of our Constitution intended electors to be free to vote their conscience,” Lessig added. “If so, then Secretary Williams clearly violated these two electors’ constitutional rights. But regardless, it is critical that the question of whether electors must vote based on their pledge, or are free to vote their conscience, is settled before the 2020 election. This suit will give the Courts the opportunity to do just that.”

The suit will be prosecuted by Lessig and Colorado attorney Jason Wesoky. Wesoky originally tried to secure the electors’ constitutional freedom before the Electoral College voted last December. At that time, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that it did not believe it necessary to intervene to defend their rights, because it did not believe the Defendant, Secretary Williams, would attempt to control how they voted. Despite that ruling, Secretary Williams removed one elector because of a vote contrary to a pledge, and threatened Baca and Nemanich.

EqualCitizens.US is a non-profit, founded by Lessig, that is committed to achieving political equality within the United States. More information on the case can be found at

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