Washington judge upholds fines for faithless electors

Washington judge upholds fines for faithless electors
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A Washington state administrative judge on Wednesday upheld fines for three presidential electors who broke their pledges to vote for Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents High-ranking FBI official leaves Russia probe OPINION | Steve Bannon is Trump's indispensable man — don't sacrifice him to the critics MORE in December.

Judge Robert Krabill of Tacoma said Washington's secretary of State was within her rights to levy $1,000 fines against Levi Guerra, Esther John and Peter "Bret" Chiafolo, Democratic electors who voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell over Clinton in the presidential election.

All three electors, along with a fourth who voted for a Native American leader, signed a pledge to vote for Clinton if she won Washington's electoral votes. Clinton took 57 percent of the vote in the reliably liberal state in November.

After the electors broke their pledges, Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) said she would impose the fines under a law passed in the late 1970s to discourage "faithless electors." 

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That law still allows electors to choose a candidate other than the one to whom they were pledged, unlike some states. The law was passed after Mike Padden, now a Republican member of the state legislature, voted for Ronald Reagan over Gerald Ford in 1976.

Guerra, John and Chiafolo all appealed the fines. A federal judge threw out their request, so they turned to the state administrative system to appeal. An attorney for the three electors told The Seattle Times they anticipate filing an appeal of Krabill's decision. 

The fourth faithless elector, Robert Satiacum, voted for Native American rights activist Faith Spotted Eagle. It was not immediately clear whether Satiacum had paid the fine levied by Wyman's office.

The votes for Powell were part of a last-ditch effort to deny the presidency to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents A history lesson on the Confederacy for President Trump GOP senator: Trump hasn't 'changed much' since campaign MORE. Chiafolo co-founded a movement dubbed the Hamilton Electors, which tried to rally members of the Electoral College around Powell as an alternative to Trump.

But only three electors outside of Washington voted for someone other than the candidate to whom they were pledged. One Texas elector cast a ballot for former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), and another voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R). A Democratic elector in Hawaii voted for Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville Road to renewable energy is filled with potholes of ‘magic thinking’ Bernie Sanders: Trump’s Charlottesville comments ‘embarrassing’ MORE (I-Vt.).

Twenty-eight other states, like Washington, require presidential electors to stick with the candidate they pledged to support. Some states will not count faithless votes. Others allow parties to replace faithless electors with alternates. And still others, like Washington, levy fines.