How Many Faithless Electors Flipped in 2016 & Who Were They?

Getty Trump and Clinton faced off in 2016.

While people watch and wait for the Electoral College vote results in 2020, it’s a good time to look back on what happened in the last presidential election. At this time, it’s not known if there will be any in the 2020 electoral college. But there were quite a few in 2016. Here’s a look at who the faithless electors were in 2016.

Seven Electors Voted Faithless in 2016

In 2016, seven electors voted faithless.

The people who received electoral votes besides Trump and Clinton were:

  • Colin Powell (3 votes)
  • Faith Spotted Eagle (1 vote)
  • John Kasich (1 vote)
  • Ron Paul (1 vote)
  • Bernie Sanders (1 vote)

David Bright in Maine flipped from voting for Hillary Clinton to voting for Bernie Sanders. David Bright announced his intention on Facebook before the vote.

The Portland Press Herald reported that when David Bright cast his vote for Bernie instead of Clinton, the vote was ruled out of order and all the electors were forced to vote again.

Muhammad Abdurrahman, a Minnesota elector, refused to vote for Clinton. He was a delegate for Bernie Sanders and had attempted to cast a vote for Sanders as President and Tulsi Gabbard as Vice President. His vote was declared invalid and an alternate replaced him as an elector.

Four Faithless Votes Were Cast in Washington in 2016

In Washington, three votes were cast for Colin Powell and one was cast for Faith Spotted Eagle. This was the first time in four decades that electors in Washington broke from the popular vote. Faith Spotted Eagle was an activist who has been described as an “amazing and inspiring woman, mentor, teacher, and hellraiser.”

As for the votes for Colin Powell, those were cast by Democrat electors who flipped. They were part of the Hamilton Electors movement, where some Democrats pledged to support a compromise candidate in an attempt to prevent Trump from winning the Electoral College, with the hope that some Republican electors would do the same.

Elector Peter B. Chiafolo, then a 37-year-old Microsoft employee, was one of the three who voted for Powell, the Los Angeles Times reported. Levi Guerra, 19-years-old at the time and a former high school wrestling champion, also voted for Powell because he wanted a Republican other than Trump. Esther John also voted for Powell.

Two Faithless Votes Were Cast in Texas in 2016

In Texas, things were also contentious. One elector, Sisneros, resigned rather than vote for Trump and he was replaced. Three other electors also resigned, but they stated it was because they found out they were ineligible.

Chris Suprun voted faithless and cast his vote for John Kasich.

Bill Greene of CD 34 also voted faithless and cast his vote for Ron Paul. He later said about his vote:

My vote as an elector was very clear, that I wasn’t voting against a Republican, I wasn’t voting against a person, I was voting for someone, as my oath of office required me to do… I voted for a Republican for President of the United States. I didn’t vote for Trump, but that’s because the electors are free agents and our sole responsibility is to vote for who we believe is the best candidate for President of the United States…

His act of voting for Ron Paul later caused him trouble later in Hidalgo County. In 2018, Greene attended the Hidalgo County Senate District 27 Convention, where delegates were picked to go to the upcoming State GOP convention.  When his name was brought up, he was voted out as both a delegate and an alternate. At around 34:00 into the meeting’s video, one member of the SD 27 meeting stood up and voiced his strong dissent against Greene’s being a delegate because of his Ron Paul electoral vote. “Who knows if he has a secret agenda (and is) Antifa or any other organization,” he said. “We have to be careful.”

Greene told Heavy at the time: “The future of the GOP is pretty clear. I am sad.”

Greene died in 2019.

In Colorado, a Democrat tried to go along with the Hamilton Elector plan and vote for a Republican compromise candidate rather than Clinton. Micheal Baca of Denver was sworn in and then voted for John Kasich rather than Clinton, Mercury News reported. He was removed and alternate Celeste Landry of Boulder cast a ballot for Clinton. The video at 15:00 below shows the vote when it happened:

Finally, one Democrat elector in Hawaii voted for Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton.

To be chosen as an elector, you must not be a federal Senator or Representative or hold any “office of trust or profit” in the United States. You also can’t serve as an elector if you gave comfort to an enemy or engaged in rebellion against the United States (this is a Civil War era requirement.) Most states award electors in a winner-takes-all method, NCSL reported, but Maine and Nebraska use a district system instead.

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