Fine upheld for ‘faithless elector’

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OLYMPIA — Three so-called “faithless electors,” one of whom is a Warden native, had their $1,000 fines upheld by a judge on Friday after they previously decided not to vote for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee during last year’s Electoral College.

Guerra v. Washington State stems from three Electoral College members from Washington, including Warden native Levi Guerra, violating state law after they chose to not vote for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, in last December’s Electoral College vote.

State law requires presidential electors to sign a pledge to vote for their party’s nominee for both president and vice-president. All 12 of the electors for the Democratic Party signed the pledge, but the three electors, often referred to as “faithless electors,” involved in Guerra v. Washington State cast their votes for former Republican U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for president, not Clinton.

The votes were the first instance of a faithless elector in the state since Mike Padden, of Spokane Valley, who is now a state senator, voted for Ronald Reagan in 1976, as opposed to Gerald Ford, who carried the state in the election. In the current case, the three electors received $1,000 fines apiece for not voting in accordance with state law. The electors filed a lawsuit against the state in response, which was heard on Friday by Judge Carol Murphy. The electors’ case was argued by Equal Citizens founder Lawrence Lessig, who ran a short-ived campaign for president in 2015.

“The electors argue that imposing the fines is unconstitutional because presidential electors have a constitutional right to cast their votes for whomever they choose,” reads a statement on Equal Citizens’ website.

After hearing legal arguments from both sides on Friday Murphy denied the electors’ appeal and upheld the $1,000 fines. Murphy ruled the electors did not meet their “burden” to show that the state’s law regarding electors is unconstitutional.

“We’re disappointed that the judge didn’t agree with us, and it’s unfortunate that she failed to offer a detailed explanation of just where our argument went wrong. But we always knew that this was just the first step, and this ruling does not alter our ultimate goal of taking this case up the Washington court system and then to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Equal Citizens attorney Jason Harrow stated.

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