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EC LEGAL MATERIALS

Guerra v. Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings

Petitioners’ Opening Brief, October 24, 2017

IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON IN AND FOR THURSTON COUNTY

In the matter of:
Levi Guerra, Esther V. John, and Peter B. Chiafalo,
Petitioners,
v.
Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings
Respondent

Cause No. 17-2-02446-34
OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS, Docket Nos.
010424
010422
010421

PETITIONERS’ OPENING BRIEF

I. INTRODUCTION

The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether the State of Washington may, constitutionally, compel its Presidential Electors to vote for a particular presidential and vicepresidential candidate.

The parties agree that Washington has “plenary” authority to select the electors it wants. They agree that Washington may require those electors to pledge to a particular candidate. And they agree that Appellants in this case had pledged to support the Democratic nominees for President and Vice-President, but in fact voted for candidates other than those nominees. The only question that the parties disagree about is whether Washington may penalize an elector who votes contrary to her pledge, by imposing a civil fine or other penalty.

This is a critically important question that deserves expedited review by this Court. While hundreds of electors throughout history have voted contrary to their pledge, 2016 saw the largest number vote independently in the history of the electoral college. Most of these electors cast their ballots based on the good faith belief that the Constitution entitled them to depart from their pledge. Appellants share that belief. But regardless of whether that belief is correct, the nation needs a clear resolution on the constitutional power of electors, before the action of any elector creates a constitutional crisis.

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