Pennsylvania elector Carolyn Bunny Welsh holds her ballot for Donald Trump before casting it at the State Capitol. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
By Philip Bump
December 20, 2016 at 12:11 PM
On Monday, Faith Spotted Eagle became one of 117 people in U.S. history to receive a vote for president in the electoral college.
As has been hammered into your brain over the past few weeks, it’s the electoral college that does the actual electing of a president, generally following the will of the popular vote in the states they represent.
Generally, but not always. In Washington, as you probably know by now, one rogue elector — generally called a “faithless” elector, implying that they’ve acted in bad faith — cast a vote for Spotted Eagle, a Native American activist who has been part of the recent pipeline protests in South Dakota. Spotted Eagle is the first Native American woman to receive an electoral college vote for president.
She’s not the only woman to do so, however. Two of the 117 people who’ve received electoral college votes for president were women, the second being a woman named Hillary Clinton. Clinton got about as many electoral votes on Monday as Martin Van Buren did in his two presidential runs — and would have passed his total were it not for those faithless electors. Seven candidates received electoral votes in 2016, the most since 1796, when electors were actually expected to pretty much do their own thing.
Colin Powell received three electoral votes, putting him in a three-way tie for 100th place all-time in electoral votes received. (Among those with whom he’s tied is Horace Greeley, the founder of the New York Tribune, who received three votes in 1872.) Sen. Bernie Sanders got a vote, too, as did Ron Paul and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. They join some other names with one electoral vote: Lloyd Bentsen and John Edwards. Both of their votes came from faithless electors, too.
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