Sen. Mike Padden listens to debate on bill to raise pay to presidential electors.
OLYMPIA — Electors who cast their vote for the state's choice for president would get more money in 2016 — quite a bit more — under a bill that passed the Senate this morning.
Pay for presidential electors in Washington was set in 1891 at $5 a day and 10 cents a mile for the journey to Olympia. Hasn't been changed since.
The Senate approved House Bill 1639, which would give electors a per diem for lodging and food as well as mileage that equals the regularly adjusted rates for state officials. Right now, that's $77 a day for lodging, $46 a day for food and 56.5 cents per mile.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, the only member of the Senate who has served as an elector, offered an amendment that would up the rates to $25 per day and 50 cents per mile, saying the rates need to be adjusted but not quite so generously. “There's not going to be any problem having electors that want to represent their party,” he said.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Puyallup, argued that using the same rate that legislators get is the fair thing to do, particularly for an expense the state only faces once every four years.
Padden's amendment failed on a voice vote, and the bill passed 38-10. It has already passed the House, so it goes to Gov. Jay Inslee.
Spin Control Trivia extra: What year was Padden an elector, and why is he famous for it? Answer inside the blog.
Mike Padden was an elector for the state Republican Party in the 1976 presidential election. That year, a majority of Washington state voters cast their ballots for incumbent Gerald Ford, but Democrat Jimmy Carter won the national election.
When Padden went to Olympia to cast his ballot, he voted for Ronald Reagan, who had challenged Ford unsuccessfully for the nomination that year. Padden's vote was the only electoral vote Reagan got in 1976; when Reagan won in 1980, he was able to say he was just ahead of his time.