State of Washington

Washington Faithless Electors Challenge

Chiafalo v. Washington

Lawsuit in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can enforce an elector’s pledge to support their party’s nominee and the state’s winner when casting Electoral College votes for president. The lawsuit originated in Washington when three of the state’s electors violated their pledges in the 2016 general election and did not cast their Electoral College votes for Hillary Clinton, the winner of Washington’s popular vote. Under Washington law, these three “faithless electors” were fined $1,000 for violating their pledges to cast Electoral College votes for the candidate chosen by the state’s voters. The faithless electors then filed a lawsuit in state court challenging these fines, arguing that the federal “Constitution gives members of the Electoral College the right to vote however they please.” This argument was rejected by a state trial court and the Washington Supreme Court. After the U.S. Supreme Court took on the case, a unanimous decision was released rejecting the faithless electors’ arguments, noting that the Constitution “gives the States far-reaching authority over presidential electors, absent some other constitutional constraint” and states therefore have the power to sanction electors who violate their pledges.

Case Documents (Wa supreme court)

Case Documents (U.s. supreme court)

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