Another Electoral College Voter Might Reject Pledge to Clinton

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If the election is close enough, it’s at least conceivable that dead-end Berners could stage one last crippling protest.Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Following the news that one Bernie Sanders–supporting Electoral College voter in Washington State was vowing he would not cast his vote for Hillary Clinton if and when she wins the state’s popular vote, another Electoral College voter in the state has told the Seattle Times that he isn’t sure he’ll support her either. That voter, 37-year-old Bret Chiafolo — who also supported Sanders in the primaries — told the Times that he is considering his right to be a “conscientious elector,” thus freeing himself from the responsibility of supporting Clinton. “I have no specific plans, but I have not ruled out that possibility,” he insisted.

Chiafolo said he thinks state laws that punish electors for disregarding the popular vote are unconstitutional. He also plans to create a website in order to educate other electors on their rights and raise awareness about the Electoral College system, which he called outdated, though added that “as long as it is the law of the land we need to be honest about it and respect it.”

Clinton is widely expected to win Washington State on Election Day and thus be pledged its 12 electoral votes toward the 270 she needs to defeat Donald Trump and win the presidency. There is no constitutional requirement for Electoral College voters to support the winner of the popular vote in their state, but some states penalize such “faithless electors.” In Washington State, for instance, they would face $1,000 fines. There hasn’t been an intentionally faithless elector in a presidential contest since one voter from Washington, D.C., did so in 2000 to protest the city’s lack of representation in Congress, and while no faithless electors have ever thrown a presidential election in U.S. history, never underestimate 2016’s ability to upend whatever you think is possible in American politics.