"Most of the time, electors cast their votes for the candidate who has received the most votes in that particular state. However, there have been times when electors have voted contrary to the people's decision, which is entirely legal."
That disturbs the hell out of me. The three exceptions:
- In 1876 there were a total of 369 electoral votes available with 185 needed to win. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, with 4,036,298 popular votes won 185 electoral votes. His main opponent, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, won the popular vote with 4,300,590 votes, but won only 184 electoral votes. Hayes was elected president.
- In 1888 there were a total of 401 electoral votes available with 201 needed to win. Republican Benjamin Harrison, with 5,439,853 popular votes won 233 electoral votes. His main opponent, Democrat Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote with 5,540,309 votes, but won only 168 electoral votes. Harrison was elected president.
- BUSH - In 2000 there were a total of 538 electoral votes available with 270 needed to win. Republican George W. Bush, with 50,456,002 popular votes won 271 electoral votes. His Democratic opponent, Al Gore, won the popular vote with 50,999,897 votes, but won only 266 electoral votes. Bush was elected president.
Here are the two elections that were decided by the House of Representatives:
- 1801: Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, both Democrat-Republicans, received the same number of electoral votes, despite the fact that Burr was running as a vice presidential candidate, not for the presidency. Following 36 successive votes in the House, Jefferson was finally elected president.
- 1825: As mentioned above, Andrew Jackson received a majority of the popular vote over John Quincy Adams, but neither man received a 131-vote majority of electoral votes needed at the time to claim the presidency. Adams won the House vote on the first ballot.
Both Nebraska and Maine can split their electoral votes; the other states have a "winner takes all" rule, which leads to the so-called "swing states": Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennesee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
26 states and the District of Columbia require their electors to vote for the same candidate that is elected by the popular vote. However, there have been "faithless electors":
- In 2000, one of the District of Columbia voters turned in a blank ballot. Barbara Lett-Simmons told The Washington Post "it is an opportunity for us to make blatantly clear our colonial status and the fact that we've been under an oligarchy." Lett-Simmons was required by D.C. law to vote for the candidate who received the most popular votes.
- In 1988, a voter from West Virginia cast a ballot for Lloyd Bentsen instead of Michael Dukakis.
- In 1976, an elector from Washington voted for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford.
These "faithless electors" have never been penalized or prosecuted. In the remaining 24 states, electors may vote for whomever they wish, regardless of the popular vote.
Electors in these States are not bound by State Law to cast their vote for a specific candidate:
- ARIZONA - 10 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- ARKANSAS - 6 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- DELAWARE - 3 Electoral Votes
- GEORGIA - 15 Electoral Votes
- IDAHO - 4 Electoral Votes
- ILLINOIS - 21 Electoral Votes
- INDIANA - 11 Electoral Votes
- IOWA - 7 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- KANSAS - 6 Electoral Votes
- KENTUCKY - 8 Electoral Votes
- LOUISIANA - 9 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- MINNESOTA - 10 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- MISSOURI - 11 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- NEW HAMPSHIRE - 4 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- NEW JERSEY - 15 Electoral Votes
- NEW YORK - 31 Electoral Votes
- NORTH DAKOTA - 3 Electoral Votes
- PENNSYLVANIA - 21 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- RHODE ISLAND - 4 Electoral Votes
- SOUTH DAKOTA - 3 Electoral Votes
- TENNESSEE - 11 Electoral Votes (swing state)
- TEXAS - 34 Electoral Votes
- UTAH - 5 Electoral Votes
- WEST VIRGINIA - 5 Electoral Votes (swing state)
That's 257 of the necessary 270 elector votes to win. The swing states that do require their electors to vote with the popular vote are Colorado, Florida, Maine (again, they can split the vote), Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Electors in both West Virginia and Washington, however, have voted the other way without repercussions.
Long story short: This is why I don't vote in presidential elections. My vote DOESN'T COUNT.