Two “faithless electors” from Washington state plan to file an appeal after a judge rejected their effort to unbind their ballots from the popular vote as part of a long-shot campaign to upend President-elect Donald Trump.
U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled Wednesday against the two Democratic electors, P. Bret Chiafalo and Levi Guerra, who had sought an injunction against a state law requiring them to vote for the winner of Washington’s popular vote, in this case Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The electors argued that the state law had a “chilling effect” on their First Amendment rights, but the judge didn’t see it that way.
“The plaintiffs voluntarily chose to become presidential electors and subjected themselves to the rules and law of that position,” said the judge in his ruling.
Afterward, Mr. Chiafalo told KOMO-TV in Seattle that “there’s an appeal right around the corner, and we’re still going to keep fighting the good fight.”
“This is an initial attempt at an injunction and simply an attempt to make sure the electors have their constitutional rights,” he said. “This does not stop that movement at all.”
Any state electors who fail to vote for Mrs. Clinton could face penalties of up to $1,000. An attorney for the electors argued that such a fine would represent a “serious hardship” for Ms. Guerra, who is a full-time student.
Dave Ammons, spokesman for the Washington secretary of state, said his office would refer the matter if necessary to the Washington attorney general’s office.
“If there are ‘faithless’ electors, we will work with the state attorney general on the matter of a civil penalty, which has never been imposed since the law passed in 1977,” Mr. Ammons said.
The two electors belong to the Hamilton Electors movement, which seeks to convince 270 Democratic and Republican electors to support a consensus candidate at Monday’s vote of the Electoral College in order to deny Mr. Trump the presidency.
In Colorado, two Democratic electors seeking to break with the popular vote lost their request for an injunction Monday after a federal judge described their motion as a “political stunt.”
Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Wednesday that he will replace immediately any electors who refuse to take the pledge or cast their vote for someone other than Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Williams, a Republican, said he is working with attorneys with the Colorado Democratic Party to select substitute electors who would be available to step in if needed during the ceremony at the state capitol in Denver.
Mr. Ammons said that Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman “has never entertained that,” referring to the substitution of electors who fail to comply with state law.
The Washington electors argued that Mr. Trump is “unfit for office,” while an attorney for the Washington Republican Party said their “attempt in disrupting the process is too late,” KOMO-TV reported.
Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig said his group, Electors Trust, counts at least 20 Republican electors who may refuse to vote for Mr. Trump at the Electoral College, although national Republicans dispute that.
Mr. Trump won 306 electoral votes to Mrs. Clinton’s 232. A defection by 37 Republican electors would put Mr. Trump below the 270 electors needed to cinch the presidency and throw the decision to the House, which is controlled by Republicans.