Blake Neff, DCNF
Former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lost four of her electoral votes Monday, thanks to faithless electors in Washington state who cast their votes for Colin Powell and American Indian activist Faith Spotted Eagle.
Washington has only 12 electoral votes, so a full third of its electors refused to vote for Clinton despite her easily winning the state’s popular vote. Three electors voted for Powell while one voted for Spotted Eagle. Powell, a Republican, nevertheless supported Clinton for president (and also back Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012), while Spotted Eagle is a Yankton Sioux activist from South Dakota who has protested against the Keystone XL pipeline.
Vice presidential voting was even more chaotic, with electors giving votes not only to Sen. Tim Kaine but also to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Maria Cantwell, (Republican) Sen. Susan Collins, and American Indian activist Winona LaDuke.
Powell is the first Republican to receive an electoral vote for president in Washington since Ronald Reagan in 1984, while Collins is the first Republican woman to receive a vote for president or vice president in the state.
Washington’s faithless electors were the first ones to successfully cast their ballots for somebody other than the winner of the state’s popular vote. An elector in Minnesota attempted to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders, but was replaced due to a state law, while an elector in Maine tried to do the same, was ruled out of order, and cast their vote for Clinton during a re-vote.
Washington law specifies a $1,000 fine for faithless electors, a penalty that was apparently insufficient to deter electors from making a statement.
Prior to Monday’s vote there was speculated faithless electors might try to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president, but thus far all Republican electors have backed Trump.