I just read this Wikipedia article.

It says Trump won with a 304 to 227 for electoral votes.

That's 304 + 227 = 531 votes.

But the total number should be 538. Where did the 7 votes go?

1 Answer 1


This is due to so-called faithless electors. Seven electors voted for a candidate other than the one they pledged to vote for. Three voted for Colin Powell, one for John Kasich, one for Ron Paul, one for Bernie Sanders, and one for Faith Spotted Eagle. The FEC's report on the 2016 election contains the map below showing which state these electors were from; Texas, Washington, and Hawaii.

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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… has some detailed information on how that played out. On top of the 7, another 3 electors (1 each from Maine, Minnesota, and Colorado, all Democrats) also attempted to vote against their pledge. The Maine elector was forced to change his vote to Clinton as pledged, the other two were replaced as electors entirely.
    – Kayndarr
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 0:32
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    The terminology used is interesting: faithless. Although I understand what they mean (and why), it's surely not a neutral word. Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 18:44
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    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket Given that they are (depending on State) expected or even required not to have a mind of their own, the terminology voters is just as interesting Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 22:25
  • @HagenvonEitzen Yes, it's a very odd system. I'm hoping to have some time to read more about it, in an attempt to understand all of its original (and possibly projected) purposes. On the surface, the voters aren't really voting for what they think (a President and Vice President) and electors aren't really voting at all (they are more like couriers who, in most of the USA's states, only courier the message of the majority, and no one else). And they wonder why so few people choose to vote. Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 22:33
  • @HagenVonEitzen it kinda begs the question why they even exist in states where they must vote a certain way. Seems unconstitutional to me. If the electors have no authority, are they even really electors?
    – Ryan_L
    Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 0:27

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