February 13, 2017
"Faithless Elector" Movement Backfires: Clinton Lost More Votes Than Trump

The movement for "faithless electors" to stop Donald Trump from reaching the White House has failed. In an unanticipated turn of events, more electors defected from Hillary Clinton than from Donald Trump. There were more faithless electors in 2016 than have been seen in one election in over 100 years.

By the numbers, Hillary Clinton lost five electoral votes and Donald Trump lost two. This put Donald Trump's final total at 304 instead of the expected 306, still well above the 270 margin needed to win. Hillary Clinton was expected to secure 232 votes in the electoral college, but ended up with only 227.

Donald Trump won big in the electoral college.
There were more faithless electors from blue states than red. [Image by John Locher/AP Images]

The media had been abuzz for weeks with talks of the potential impact of the so-called "faithless electors" or "Hamilton electors" movement. A Harvard law professor claimed 20 Republicans would not cast their votes for Trump in the electoral college. Chris Supron of Texas openly admitted that he would not cast his vote for Trump, but for John Kasich, a Republican candidate Trump defeated in the primaries.

Kasich responded by asking electors not to vote for him.

Still, the movement gained steam as Monday approached. An online petition asking the electoral college to elect Hillary Clinton gathered 5 million signatures, Martin Sheen and other celebrities made a video imploring the electorate to cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, and Republican electors across the country were harassed with requests to change their votes.

But Monday's results offered an entirely different reality than the picture painted by those hoping a faithless electorate could stop a Trump presidency.

Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016.
Faithless electors cost Hillary five electoral votes. [Image by Patrick Semansky/AP Images]

The discrepancies started in Maine. There, an elector voted for Hillary Clinton's rival from the primaries, Bernie Sanders. The vote was rejected and the elector properly cast his vote for Hillary Clinton on the second ballot. Maine is one of only two states to split its electoral votes, the other being Nebraska. Hillary Clinton received her allotted three votes and Donald Trump his one vote from Maine.

Then in Colorado, an elector voted for John Kasich. Colorado has a different system to deal with dissenting electors, and this elector was dismissed. A new elector was sworn in, and this time all nine of the electorate cast their votes for Hillary Clinton.

In Minnesota, yet another elector refused to cast his vote for Clinton. This elector was dismissed and the alternate resulted in all ten of Minnesota's electoral votes going to Hillary Clinton as planned.

The state of Washington hurt Hillary Clinton's electoral vote total the most. Here, Clinton was expected to receive 12 electoral votes. Washington, like most states, is supposed to have a winner-take-all system. Clinton won the popular vote in Washington by a large margin. Instead of the expected 12 votes, only eight electoral college members voted for Hillary Clinton. Of the state's remaining four votes, one of them went to Faith Spotted Eagle -- a member of the Sioux tribe who helped block the Dakota Access Pipeline -- and the remaining three went to General Colin Powell.

Colin Powell, a retired four-star army General and former secretary of state under George W. Bush, did not run for president and is not even a Democrat. This bizarre choice on behalf of the Washington electors to effectively throw one-quarter of their state's votes away can only be explained in the context of the "Hamilton electors" movement, which sought to create a tie in the electoral college that would have to be resolved by Congress. The electors hoped that the Republican-controlled Congress would choose Colin Powell as an alternative to Donald Trump.

Not enough Republicans were on board with the idea to make any significant dent in Donald Trump's electoral vote lead. Trump finished election night with 36 more votes than the required 270 to win, a lead nearly the size of Texas.

Michigan elector votes for Trump.
A Michigan elector gives the thumbs up that the state's votes have went to their chosen candidate. [Image by Carlos Osorio/AP Images]

Texas has 38 electoral votes and it was two Republican electors, both from Texas, that defected from Trump. Chris Supron voted for Kasich as promised, and one other Texas elector went rogue and cast his ballot for Ron Paul.

The count from Texas put Trump over the necessary 270 votes needed to win. Trump had two less than his expected 306 electoral votes.

States continued to count their ballots, and the final blow to Clinton's vote total came from Hawaii. David Mulinix, who said early in the morning that he would vote for Clinton, ended up casting his vote for Bernie Sanders. Malinex said he voted for Sanders because he did not feel that Clinton was qualified to be president, but would have voted for Clinton if Trump had not already secured his win.

Like Washington, Hawaii has no law that penalizes electors from going against the statewide vote. Bernie was a popular candidate in Hawaii, with Representative Tulsi Gabbard resigning from her post in the Democratic National Convention to endorse him over Clinton.

2016 marks the most faithless electors in any election since 1912, when the vice presidential candidate died and the electors pledged to him had to vote for someone else. Like this example, most instances of faithless electors involved the election for vice president. In 1808, six electors refused to support James Madison for president and cast their votes for George Clinton instead.

The tally for the final vote in the electoral college is:

Donald Trump: 304

Hillary Clinton: 227

Colin Powell: 3

Bernie Sanders: 1

Faith Spotted Eagle: 1

John Kasich: 1

Ron Paul: 1

[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]