Despite a statute binding the 12 members of the electoral college to vote for the winner of the state’s 2016 presidential election popular vote, four Washington electors made history and risked a $1,000 fine by voting for someone else Monday. But it wasn’t Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton, supported by 57% of the state’s voters, wound up with eight of the 12 electoral votes at a session held in the State Capitol building here.
Gen. Colin Powell received three votes. And Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder of the Yankton Sioux, received one.
It was the first time in four decades that the state’s electors did not support the winner of Washington’s popular vote for president. In a tweet released shortly after the vote, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said she plans to enforce what is called the “faithless voter” law against the four who didn’t follow the rules. She did not elaborate.
The separate vote for vice president drew some raised eyebrows as well. Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, received eight votes. The other four went to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist.
The outcome had no affect on the ballyhooed effort to deprive Trump of his White House victory through the electoral process. He had earned none of his 306 electoral votes in the winner-take-all general election here and none of the protest votes went his way either. However, Clinton’s 232 electoral vote tally will drop.
Elector Peter B. Chiafolo, a 37-year-old Microsoft employee and co-founder of Hamilton Electors, which seeks to change the electoral process, nonetheless said he was inspired by the widespread support his group received across the U.S.
“The first key of learning how to be a citizen is understanding how your government works,” he said. The nation’s sudden interest in the usually routine electoral vote shows people are finding out, he added.
He plans to continue working for elimination of the electoral college, he said in the short speech allowed to each of the dozen electors, and was joined by Gov. Jay Inslee, who said the balloting for president should be done only by national popular vote.
Washington is one of 29 states where electors are bound by law or pledge to vote for the state’s popular vote winner. “Faithless electors” who don’t follow the rules can be hit with up to a $1,000 civil fine.
Chiafolo, 37, and 19-year-old fellow elector Levi Guerra, an ex-high school wrestling champ, both had said they wanted to vote for a Republican other than Trump. They challenged the faithless elector law in court, but a federal judge threw out the case. Last Friday, a federal appellate court declined to grant an emergency injunction.
The results of the vote are to be sent to the president, the National Archives and federal court, a state spokesperson said.
Anderson is a special correspondent.