Meet the Washington Electors Planning to Go Rogue

They are part of a longshot effort to deny Trump the presidency.

OLYMPIA — If by some chance Alexander Hamilton could transport through time to the state Capitol Monday, it’d be to bear witness to the political disobedience of Bret Chiafalo of Everett.

Chiafalo is one of Washington’s 12 electors, and the nation’s 538 members of the Electoral College, who on Monday will be choosing the next United States president. The 38-year-old Democrat pledged months ago to cast his vote for his party’s nominee should they win in this state, which means he should vote for Hillary Clinton.

Chiafalo says he is not planning to keep his pledge when electors gather at noon, an act of defiance that could cost him money but he hopes contributes to keeping Republican president-elect Donald Trump out of the White House.

He and at least one other Washington elector, Levi Guerra of Eastern Washington, may vote for a Republican who they consider a consensus alternative to Trump. Under state law, such a political jaywalking violation would subject each of them to a potential $1,000 fine as a “faithless elector”, though they could possibly be let off with a warning.

Chiafalo contends the law isn’t legal and says he intends to carry out his moral and constitutional responsibility as an elector to select a person fit to be president. Trump, in his view and that of other Democratic electors across the country, is unfit to hold the position.

Chiafalo is a founder and voice of a campaign to derail Trump’s presidency by getting electors of both parties to forget about their pledges from months ago and vote for a qualified Republican to lead today.

Here’s where Hamilton fits in.

The U.S. Constitution laid out ground rules for the Electoral College. Hamilton, a soldier, a lawyer and a nationalist, took it upon himself to explain its importance in “The Mode of Electing the President”, more commonly referred to as Federalist Paper No. 68.

Writing in 1788, when only a handful of states had joined the union and a year before the presidency of George Washington began, Hamilton argued the Electoral College provides a defense against an unqualified individual conning their way into office on a wave of popularity. Electors should assess and investigate candidates’ qualifications to insure against the election of an executive burdened by conflicts of interest or under the influence of a foreign power, he also wrote.

While Chiafolo said he’s not a fan of the Electoral College, it is the “fail safe” measure the republic needs now more than ever today.

“This is the moment Hamilton and (James) Madison warned us about,” he says in a video posted on the website of Hamilton Electors, the group Chiafalo helped launch.

This effort is, to put it bluntly, a longshot.

Trump captured 306 Electoral College votes, 36 more than the minimum 270 needed to win. That means no matter how Chiafalo and Guerra vote, Trump could only be denied victory if, in those states he won, at least 37 Republican electors support a different GOP candidate.

Then the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives would pick the president. It certainly means the next president will be Republican, just maybe not Trump.

“Thirty seven patriots can save this country,” Chiafalo says in the video.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com and on Twitter at @dospueblos.

More in News & Comment

Protestors gather at SeaTac’s Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Alex Garland
Seattle’s Separated Children

A local non-profit houses several immigrant youths who were separated from their parents at the border. But for how long?

Katrina Johnson, Charleena Lyles’ cousin, speaks at a press conference for De-Escalate Washington’s I-940 on July 6, 2017. Photo by Sara Bernard
Communities of Color Respond to Police Chief Best’s Nomination

Although its a mixed bag for some, the families affected by police shootings say she’s the best one for the job.

While King County Metro has been testing out several trial electric buses since since 2016, the agency aims to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2040. Photo by SounderBruce/Flickr
King County Rolls on With Its Electric Bus Fleet Plans

With an overhaul set by 2040, a new report shows the economic and health benefits of going electric.

Nikkita Oliver speaks at a July 17 No New Youth Jail press conference in front of the construction site of the King County Youth Detention Center. Photo by Josh Kelety
King County Youth Detention Center Moves Forward Despite Opposition

As community criticism of the project mounts, King County tries to take a middle road.

Trouble in Tacoma

A cannabis producer has been shut down for “numerous and substantial violations.”

Between Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and the new no-poach cause agreement, Washington has been leading the nation in advancing fast food workers’ rights. Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr
Washington AG’s Deal Grants Mobility to Fast Food Workers Nationwide

Seven fast food chains have agreed to end no-poaching policies that economists say cause wage stagnation.

The Carlton Complex wildfire burned in north-central Washington state in 2014. Photo by Jason Kriess/Wikimedia Commons
King County Burn Ban Starts This Weekend

Other counties across the state have already enacted similar restrictions.

Numerous complaints against King County Sheriff’s deputies for issues like excessive force and improper search and seizure weren’t investigated due to internal misclassification, a new report says. Photo by Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
Report Finds Complaints Against King County Sheriff’s Deputies Weren’t Investigated

An outside review says that allegations of excessive force and racially-biased policing weren’t pursued.

Most Read