Constitutional Showdown in San Jose Federal Court as Electoral College Voter Seeks to Side With his Conscience - NBC Bay Area

Constitutional Showdown in San Jose Federal Court as Electoral College Voter Seeks to Side With his Conscience

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    An Electoral College voter from Monterey County on Friday asked a judge to allow him to vote his conscience for president. Damian Trujillo report. (Published Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016)

    An Electoral College voter from Monterey County on Friday asked a judge to allow him to vote his conscience for president.

    The Electoral College vote is on Monday, and Vinz Koller is poised to make history. If Koller doesn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, he faces felony charges and three years in prison.

    He stood outside a San Jose federal courthouse with his lawyer Friday, having asked for an injunction and to keep from being put behind bars.

    “If I’m not allowed to vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton, in effect I’m enabling the election of Donald Trump for president, and in good conscience, I cannot do that," Koller said.

    The democrat instead wants to cross party lines and vote for a Republican – like John Kasich – since he knows Clinton can’t win.

    But state law prevents that. So Koller came to court, his lawyer Melody Kramer said, “asking he be protected from criminal prosecution if he places his presidential electoral vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton.”

    Koller’s request for a restraining order on any possible arrest was denied, so he filed for an emergency hearing with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    “The Electoral College was created for this purpose,” Koller said. “To prevent the election of someone who not only has questionable competence, but more importantly, has shown himself to be corrupt.”

    Legal experts are watching this case closely because it would set a precedent.

    “Mr. Koller, in the process, can have a constitutional showdown of historic proportions,” said legal analyst Steven Clark.

    Koller says he is putting country over party with his vote. However, he did not say what he will do if the Ninth Circuit denies his appeal.

    Courts don’t like handing down preemptive rulings, Clark said, so Koller may have to take his chances and see what happens.

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