WASHINGTON ― An Electoral College voter from Washington state told the Associated Press on Friday that he would not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances, even if, as is firmly expected, Clinton wins his state’s popular vote.
The elector, Robert Satiacum, is a Native American who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic Primary and told the AP that Clinton is a “criminal” who hasn’t done enough on Native American issues.
“She will not get my vote. Period,” Satiacum said in a phone interview with the news service.
While that is technically Satiacum’s prerogative, as an elected member of the Electoral College, he will face a $1,000 fine from Washington for not voting for the winner of that state.
So-called “faithless electors” have been relatively rare in the history of U.S. presidential elections. There have been 157 since 1796, when Samuel Miles became the first Electoral College voter to break from his pledge, though nearly half of those “faithless elector” cases were the result of the delegate dying before the Electoral College met. The last time a voter broke the pledge was 2004.
This latest case is another reminder of the United States’ somewhat bizarre style of certifying its elections. Technically, just 538 people ― not all the American people ― choose our next president.
Satiacum said in early October that he may not vote for Clinton, saying that she was “the same as Trump” and had committed “crimes against our mother, this Earth.”
“She doesn’t care about my land or my air or my fire or my water,” Satiacum told the AP Friday.
Although Satiacum could be just the first elector this year to vow not to follow the will of his state ― other electors have showed uneasiness with GOP nominee Donald Trump ― his vote alone is unlikely to sway the election. He appears unwilling to vote for Trump, and there are no likely pathways in which Clinton receives just 270 votes. (The lowest vote total that would still elect Clinton appears to be 273 votes to Trump’s 265.)
Still, there are scenarios in which multiple electors could band together in defiance of their state’s will and swing the election, though that appears unlikely at this point.
Electors are chosen mostly through political parties. The Constitution mandates that electors not be a person holding a federal office. In Washington, each political party nominates a slate of electors that represent each candidate. When that candidate wins, those electors are chosen to represent the state. Satiacum attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate for Sanders and was nominated to his elector position by a Native American education advocate, according to Politico.