Speed Reads

jay takes an l

Bill that would have criminalized lying about election results dies in Washington state Senate

A bill that would have made it illegal to lie about the results of an election died in the Washington state Senate on Tuesday, The Seattle Times reported.

Senate Bill 5843 was introduced at the urging of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and would have made it a gross misdemeanor for elected officials or political candidates to lie "knowingly, recklessly, or maliciously" about election results.

State Sen. David Frockt (D), who sponsored the bill, said, "We have to respect that the bill in its current form did not have enough support to advance despite the care we took in its drafting through our consultation with leading First Amendment scholars."

Law professor Jeff Kosseff wrote that Inslee's bill amounted to "jailing people for political speech" and is part of an "illiberal trend" to "sacrifice core free speech protections to address the problems of the day."

Per the Times, Inslee first proposed the bill on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The same day protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Trump supporters in Olympia, Washington, breached the gates of the governor's mansion, forcing Inslee to flee.

Loren Culp, the Republican who lost to Inslee in the 2020 gubernatorial election, "filed a legal challenge alleging fraud by then-Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a fellow Republican," after the election, the Times reports. Her lawsuit was later withdrawn.

After the bill was defeated on Tuesday, Inslee said in a statement, "We all still have a responsibility to act against this Big Lie ... we must continue to explore ways to fight the dangerous deceptions politicians are still promoting about our elections."