The seven so-called “faithless” votes cast by members of the Electoral College on Monday may go down as a noisy footnote to an otherwise chaotic 2016 election. But they also represent a historic breach between electors and the candidates they were expected to vote for.
The number of faithless votes has now become the most-ever cast in a single presidential election. The record was set in 1808, when six Democratic-Republican electors opposed James Madison. It’s also the first time since 1832 in which more than a single elector cast a faithless vote.
The bulk of the votes came from Washington state, where three Democratic electors bucked Hillary Clinton and cast votes for Colin Powell, a retired general, an African-American — and a Republican. These Democrats were supporting a failed effort meant to block the election of Donald Trump and unite behind an alternative Republican candidate. Powell turned out to be their choice.