4 Washington state electors to be fined $1,000 for vote

AP-Electoral College Washington
Electors fill out their ballots during a meeting of Washington state's Electoral College, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Four Washington state electors who cast their vote for someone other than Democrat Hillary Clinton will each be fined $1,000 next week, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday.

David Ammons, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kim Wyman, told The Associated Press that the electors will have 60 days to pay the fine, and said the office is putting together an appeals process in case of a challenge.

Clinton won the state’s popular vote last month, earning her 12 electoral votes. Under state law, presidential electors — who are chosen by their party at their state convention — sign a pledge to vote for their party’s nominees for president and vice president. But during Monday’s Electoral College vote in Olympia, Clinton got just eight votes, while former Secretary of State Colin Powell got three and Native American tribal elder and activist Faith Spotted Eagle got one vote.

Republican Donald Trump finished with 304 votes — winning all but two of the Electoral College votes he claimed on Election Day — and Clinton had 227 after losing five — the four in Washington state and one in Hawaii. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

A group called the Hamilton Electors, co-founded by Washington elector Bret Chiafalo, had sought to block Trump by encouraging both Democratic and Republican electors in every state to unite behind an alternate Republican candidate.

Texas put Trump over the top, despite two Republican electors casting protest votes.

Chiafalo, along with electors Esther John and Levi Guerra voted for Powell and elector Robert Satiacum voted for Spotted Eagle. The four also voted for someone other than Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, for vice president. John voted for Maine’s Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, Chiafalo voted for Democratic Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Satiacum cast his vice presidential vote for Native American and environmental activist Winona LaDuke, and Guerra voted for Democratic Washington U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Chiafalo said he wasn’t surprised by the secretary of state’s decision, but said he would appeal.

“I stand by my belief that it’s unconstitutional,” he said.

The last time an elector broke from the popular vote in Washington 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.