SEATTLE – A judge on Wednesday upheld the $1,000 fines issued by the Washington secretary of state against three electors who broke their vote pledge and cast their vote for someone other than Democrat Hillary Clinton in December.
In the initial order, Administrative Law Judge Robert C. Krabill said the secretary of state is allowed by state law to assess the civil penalties. Under state law, he wrote, the secretary of state may assess a civil penalty up to $1,000 against any elector who votes for a person or persons not nominated by the party of which he or she is an elector.
But Krabill also said he didn’t have the authority to rule on the plaintiffs’ argument that the Constitution doesn’t give the state power to punish electors for contrary votes. He said they could argue it on appeal.
Sumeer Singla, an attorney for plaintiffs Levi Guerra, Esther John and Peter Chiafolo, said Wednesday they were reviewing the order and anticipate appealing it.
Clinton lost four electors in the December Electoral College vote in Olympia – three voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one voted for Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle.
The fourth voter has also appealed the fine and has a court hearing scheduled for next week, said Peter Lavallee, spokesman for the state attorney general’s office.
The last time an elector broke from the popular vote in the state was in 1976, when Mike Padden of Spokane Valley, who is currently a Republican state senator, voted for Ronald Reagan in 1976 instead of Gerald Ford, who had won the state.
The fine, which has never previously been imposed, was first established by the Legislature following Padden’s vote in 1976.
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