Pundits have repeatedly reminded us that President Obama could win the electoral college, but lose the popular vote. The unlikely possibility also remains that one of the candidates could “win” certain electoral votes, but that one or more electors chosen to cast votes for a particular candidate could rebel, and choose to cast his vote for the other candidate. In other words, even if President Obama “won” Iowa’s six electoral votes tomorrow by winning the popular vote in Iowa, one of the six electors selected to cast those votes could choose to cast an electoral vote for Governor Romney.
The last time a wayward elector cast a ballot that was contrary to the wishes of his state’s voters was in 2004. A Minnestoa elector pledged to John Kerry cast his ballot for John Edwards instead. Minnesota’s electors cast secret ballots, so it is not clear who cast the ballot. Generally, it is assumed that the vote was an accident, because John Edwards was on the ballot for Vice President.
The last time an elector purposefully cast a ballot in a manner that was contrary to the wishes of voters was in 2000. Barbara Left-Simmons, a District of Columbia elector, did not cast an electoral ballot, in protest of the District’s lack of congressional representation.