For the first time in four decades, members of the Electoral College in Washington state have broken from the state’s popular vote for president, with four electors casting their votes for candidates other than Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Clinton got eight votes, while former Secretary of State Colin Powell got three and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle got one vote.
Elector Bret Chiafalo, who earlier in the day said he planned to vote for Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said he ultimately changed his vote to Powell after conversations with other Washington electors.
The last time an elector broke from the popular vote in the state was in 1976, when Mike Padden of Spokane Valley, who is currently a Republican state senator, voted for Ronald Reagan in 1976 instead of Gerald Ford, who had won the state. In last month’s election, Republican Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, though Clinton’s tally will now be lower.
A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.
A group called the Hamilton Electors, co-founded by Chiafalo, had sought to block Trump by encouraging both Democratic and Republican electors in every state to unite behind an alternate Republican candidate.
The penalty in Washington state for so-called “faithless electors” is a $1,000 fine. Efforts by two Democratic electors from Washington state to avoid being fined if they ignore the results of the state’s popular vote were rejected by federal courts last week.
The fine —which has never previously been imposed — was first established by the Legislature following Padden’s vote in 1976.
The Electoral College was devised at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It was a compromise between those who wanted popular elections for president and those who wanted no public input.
The Electoral College has 538 members, with the number allocated to each state based on how many representatives it has in the House plus one for each senator. The District of Columbia gets three, despite the fact that the home to Congress has no vote in Congress.
The AP tried to reach all of the electors and interviewed more than 330 of them, finding widespread aggravation among Democrats with the electoral process, but little expectation Trump would be derailed.
Congress will officially tally the state votes on Jan. 6, and the presidential inauguration will be Jan. 20.