A Historic Number of Electors Defected, and Most Were Supposed to Vote for Clinton

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The Electoral College on Monday voted for Donald J. Trump to win the presidency. Seven electors, the most ever, voted for someone other than their party’s nominee.

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In Washington, a state where Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had strong support in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, three of the state’s 12 electoral votes went to Colin L. Powell, the Republican former secretary of state. One more elector voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American leader. Another Democratic elector in Hawaii voted for Mr. Sanders.

Two Texas electors voted for different Republican politicians: Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Texas congressman Ron Paul.

In addition, three Democratic electors, in Colorado, Maine and Minnesota, initially declined to vote for Mrs. Clinton. Two were replaced by an alternate, and one ended up changing his vote.

Protest Votes in the Electoral College

Electors are not required by the Constitution to vote for a particular candidate. Some states and parties require their electors to pledge to vote for a candidate and may fine or replace electors who break their pledge.

It is rare for more than one elector to vote against the party’s pledged candidate, but it has happened on a few occasions.

In 1808, six New York electors from the Democratic-Republican Party refused to vote for James Madison and instead voted for the party’s vice-presidential candidate, George Clinton.

The last time an elector voted for a candidate from another party was in 1972, when a Republican from Virginia voted for the Libertarian candidate, John Hospers, instead of the eventual winner, Richard M. Nixon. A single elector has refused to vote for the party’s presidential candidate in 11 elections.

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