Since the days of the Founding Fathers, America has used a system known as the Electoral College to elect its presidents. When we go to cast our ballots, we’re actually casting a vote for fellow Americans called electors. Electors are appointed by the states and have pledged to support the candidate who wins the popular vote.
And typically, electors do vote faithfully with the people. But could 2016 be an anomaly? If Washington state is any indicator, it very well could be:
“No, no, no on Hillary. Absolutely not. No way,” said Robert Satiacum, a member of Washington’s Puyallup Tribe who had supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential nominee.
He had earlier told various media outlets he was wrestling with whether his conscience would allow him to support Clinton and was considering stepping aside for an alternate elector. But on Friday, he sounded firm, even if the election is close.
“I hope it comes down to a swing vote and it’s me,” he said. “Good. She ain’t getting it. Maybe it’ll wake this country up.”
Bret Chiafalo, a Democratic elector from Everett who is also a Sanders supporter, said he is considering exercising his right to be a “conscientious elector” and vote for the person he believes would be the best president.
“I have no specific plans, but I have not ruled out that possibility,” he said.
Satiacum added that he “could not face his six children and 10 grandchildren if he cast a vote for Clinton.”
This year, the Electoral College will hold its vote Dec. 19. There are 538 electors total; 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency. If no candidate wins 270 votes, the U.S. House of Representatives chooses the president.
There have been four elections in which the winner of the popular vote did not win the electoral vote: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. Will it happen in 2016? The widespread dissatisfaction with Clinton certainly makes it possible.