OLYMPIA - Another Washington Democratic Elector has added her name to the small group of electors trying to stop Donald Trump from becoming president, in an effort they acknowledge is an extreme long shot.
“I promised those who elected me that I would do everything I could to ensure Trump did not become our president. To keep this promise, I believe I must cast my vote for an alternative Republican,” said 19-year-old Levi Guerra, a Democratic Elector from Warden, Wash.
Guerra and fellow Washington State Democratic Elector P. Bret Chiafalo held a news conference Wednesday at the State Capitol in Olympia, where they will cast their electoral votes on December 19.
They’re calling themselves “Hamilton Electors,” a movement named after U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, who wrote about the Electoral College in the Federalist Papers.
Supporters of the movement argue the Electoral College was designed to stop a president-elect unqualified to take office. So, they're trying to convince Republican electors in states that voted for Donald Trump to vote for a moderate Republican candidate instead.
“As a Democratic elector, it is not an easy thing to pledge my vote to a qualified Republican alternative, but as an American, I know it is the right thing to do. I worry about our country, where it is headed. I worry about all the division, and I worry that we are forgetting what makes us who we are. I hope that America can find a way to come together,” Guerra told reporters in a prepared statement.
Neither Guerra nor Chiafalo have specified who they plan to vote for next month. Chiafalo said he hopes a Republican leader will step forward. He threw out names including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ohio Governor John Kasich and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Chiafalo, a Bernie Sanders supporter during the presidential primary, said he while he disagrees with Republican policies, he believes convincing other electors to vote for a moderate Republican is their best strategy.
Trump currently has 306 electoral votes over Hillary Clinton’s 232 votes. 270 electoral votes is the number needed to become president.
“The bottom line is without Republican electors unifying with us, there is no way to make this happen, and we don’t believe 37 Republican electors will ever vote for Hillary,” Chiafalo said of the number of electors needed to deny President-elect Trump of 270 votes. “At this point it’s about harm reduction, about saving our country from being the most divided it’s been since the civil war. And, we believe the only way to do that is with a Republican compromise candidate and unifying this country.”
Note, in their hypothetical scenario of bringing Trump’s total below 270, the decision would go to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which would likely support the Republican president-elect.
Additionally, it’s highly unlikely that a large group of electors would defect, since some states bind electors by law to the popular vote of their respective states. In Washington State, electors face a fine of $1,000 for not representing their states’ votes.
An estimated 99 percent of electors have voted as they pledged, according to the National Archives.
However, there have been cases of so-called “faithless electors,” who have cast a protest electoral vote. The list includes Washington State Sen. Michael Padden, a Republican, who voted for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford in 1976.
This year, Washington State could have up to three so-called “faithless electors,” which would set a record for the state.
In addition to the Hamilton Electors movement, a third Washington Democratic Elector, Robert Satiacum, says he doesn’t plan on casting his electoral vote for Hillary Clinton.
The State Democratic Party said in a statement that Chairman Jaxon Ravens is “talking to electors and encouraging them to fulfill their duties as Democratic electors. Those conversations have gone on for weeks and will continue into December.”
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