Press Release



Date: December 6, 2017

Contact: Blair Fitzgibbon
(202) 503-6141
[email protected]

Equal Citizens Provides Legal Support for 3 WA Presidential Electors Who Were Fined for Voting Their Conscience in 2016

On Friday December 8, EqualCitizens.US will provide legal support to three 2016 presidential electors who were fined by the Washington State for voting their conscience — Peter Bret Chiafalo, Levi Jennet Guerra, and Esther Virginia John — during the first major hearing for the case Guerra v. Washington State in the WA state court.

The electors contend that Washington State violated their constitutional rights by fining them, because the Constitution provides electors the freedom to vote their conscience. Friday’s court hearing is the first chance for any electors to defend their constitutional right in court. The hearing will be held before a single trial court judge in state court in Olympia, WA. A written ruling sometime after the hearing is expected.

The ruling of this case will clarify whether states have the constitutional power to compel their electors to vote for a particular presidential and vice-presidential candidate, and whether states may fine or penalize an elector who cast their votes contrary to their pre-election pledge.

“We are hopeful that these cases will be the vehicle for resolving this crucial issue before the next election,” said Lawrence Lessig, founder of EqualCitizens.US and the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. “This matter calls into question the constitutional power of electors, and it is vitally important that the Supreme Court resolve this question before the action of any future elector creates a constitutional crisis.”

A record number of Electoral College electors voted contrary to their pre-election pledge in 2016. Most of these electors cast their ballots based on the good faith belief that the Constitution entitled them to depart from their pledge, but ended up facing fines or threats of criminal prosecution from their state governments.

EqualCitizens.US is currently providing legal support to the 2016 presidential electors in Colorado and Washington who were threatened or fined by their state government for voting their conscience. Their argument draws on the understanding of the Framers of the Constitution about the role of the Electoral College, as well as relatively recent Supreme Court authority that affirms electors’ freedom.




About Equal Citizens

EqualCitizens.US is a non-profit, founded by Lawrence Lessig, that is committed to achieving political equality within the United States. More information on the case can be found at