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Faithless
Alexander Hamilton, writing as Publius in Federalist #68, said that "a small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to so complicated an investigation" as to who should be president. However, in practice the electors have never really been expected to excercise their own judgement. In the first two presidential elections George Washington was unopposed. During his eight years at the helm, political parties had grown in power and become the driving force in American politics. By 1796, the first contested presidential election, parties expected their electors to vote as instructed. Today, electors chosen by the parties are usually extremely loyal members who would never consider not voting for their man. In 2000, twenty-six states and DC had laws requiring electors to vote as pledged (see Which electors are bound?). But every once an awhile, the rare "faithless elector" appears and votes contrary to his parties wishes. Only 10 of the 21,358 electoral votes between 1789 and 2000 weren't cast as expected. The faithless electors have different reasons for changing their vote, but they have never changed the expected result of a presidential election.

This list includes only electoral votes cast for president. Electors voting for someone other than the person they were expected to vote for due to the death of that candidate are not considered here as faithless.

FAITHLESS ELECTORS
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1796 Samuel Miles
Pennsylvania
John Adams
Federalist
Thomas Jefferson
Democratic-Republican
The first contested election also had the first faithless elector. One angry voter writing to the Gazette of the United States said "What! Do I chuse Samuel Miles to determine for me whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferson shall be President? No! I chuse him to act, not to think!"
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1820 William Plummer, Sr.
New Hampshire
James Monroe
Democratic-Republican
John Quincy Adams
Democratic-Republican
There are conflicting accounts but Plummer either didn't think anyone but George Washington should get a unanimous electoral victory or he wanted to end the Virginia line of presidents (out of the 5 presidents to this point in history, 4 had been from Virginia).
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1948 Preston Parks
Tennessee
Harry Truman
Democratic
Strom Thurmond
States Rights (Dixiecrat)

year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1956 W.F. Turner
Alabama
Adlai Stevenson
Democratic
Walter B. Jones
Turner voted for a circuit court judge from his hometown.
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1960 Henry D. Irwin
Oklahoma
Richard Nixon
Republican
Harry F. Byrd
Democratic
Irwin was involved in the first known plot to try to sway other electors to change their votes along with him. He had telegramed many of the electors and tried to get them to drop both Nixon and Kennedy, and choose another candidate instead. In the end, he was the only one who didn't vote as bound.
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1968 Lloyd W. Bailey
North Carolina
Richard Nixon
Republican
George Wallace
American Independent
Bailey seemed to be a wishy-washy elector who couldn't decide what his reason for voting contrary to his instructions was. First he said he was upset with Nixon's appointments and did it to protest. Then he said it was because his district had voted for Wallace. Then he decided, no it was just a protest vote. Bailey may be one of the reasons that North Carolina now replaces faithless electors before their votes are counted in Congress! (UPDATE: In a December 2000 CNN story, Bailey said he did it because he was upset with Nixon's appointments.)
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1972 Roger L. MacBride
Virginia
Richard Nixon
Republican
John Hospers
Libertarian
MacBride, active in Republican politics most of his life, would switch parties and run as the Libertarian candidate for president in 1976. Unfortunately for him, no electors helped him out!
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1976 Mike Padden
Washington
Gerald Ford
Republican
Ronald Reagan
Republican
Realizing his vote for Ford wouldn't help, Padden decided to cast his vote for his preferred Republican candidate.
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
1988 Margarette Leach
West Virginia
Michael Dukakis
Democratic
Lloyd Bentsen
Democratic
Shocked when she learned that electors could vote for whomever they pleased, Leach switched the candidates of the Democratic presidential and vice presidential ticket on her ballot. She asked other Democratic electors to join her protest, but none did.
year elector supposed to vote for: actually voted for:
2000 Barbara Lett-Simmons
District of Columbia
Al Gore
Democratic
abstained
In an election where considerable effort was made to get Republican electors to break their pledges, it was a Democrat who would do so. Lett-Simmons left her ballot blank as a protest of DC's lack of representation in Congress
2004 unknown
Minnesota
John Kerry
Democratic
John Edwards
Democratic
An unknown elector wrote John Edwards on both their presidential and vice presidential ballot in what was probably just a simple mistake

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