Electoral College Voting Facts & Factoids

Faithless Elector, by James McCrone is a timely, compelling novel for our turbulent times. Available now, at Amazon.com
There have been four (4) instances of Faithless Electors in US History:
  • Mike Padden, elector in Washington State, cast his vote in 1976 for Reagan instead of Ford
  • The 2000 election result was 266 to 271 (537 total EC Votes instead of the expected 538)--one elector, Barabara Lett-Simmons, abstained in protest for lack of District of Columbia representation
  • In 2004 a Minnesota elector wrote in John Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, by mistake
  • 2016--
James McCrone
Electoral College Vote and the Popular Vote

  • There have been four elections where one candidate had more popular votes, but did not win the ECV:  1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000.

  • In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories.
    Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the (then) majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. Neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.

  • In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.

  • In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.

  • In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.  (One DC delegate abstained—Barabara Lett-Simmons, in protest over the status of DC; it was the first abstention since 1864, when a NV Elector abstained--see above)

Reforming the Electoral College

The closest Congress has come to amending the Electoral College since 1804 was during the 91st Congress (1969–1971). H.J. Res. 681 (1969) proposed the direct election of a President and Vice President, requiring a run off when no candidate received more than 40 percent of the vote. The resolution passed the House in 1969 by a vote 338-70, but failed to pass the Senate. ["House Votes for Direct Election of President." In CQ Almanac 1969, 25th ed., 895-901. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1970.]

For an even more in-depth discussion of issues pertaining to the Electoral College, click HERE
The National Popular Vote Bill (website) notes that "The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from state winner-take-all statutes (i.e., state laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each separate state).

"Because of these state winner-take-all statutes, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the issues of concern to voters in states where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion. Two-thirds of the 2012 general-election campaign events (176 of 253) were in just 4 states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). Thirty-eight states were ignored." MORE