NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wanted: Three "Faithless Electors"

December 18, 2000

Some of Al Gore's supporters are actively working to subvert electors pledged to George W. Bush, thereby giving Gore a victory in the Electoral College. Bush now has 271 electoral votes pledged to him -- one more than necessary to win -- and Gore has 267.

A switch of just three votes from Bush to Gore would throw the election to Gore. A switch of just two votes would create a tie, sending the election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Twenty-four states have no laws binding electors, including Bush's and Gore's home states, Texas and Tennessee. In recent years there have been several so-called "faithless electors":

  • Henry Irwin of Virginia, who voted for Harry F. Byrd in 1960, rather than Richard Nixon, to whom he was pledged.
  • Lloyd W. Bailey of North Carolina, who was also pledged to Nixon, but voted instead for George Wallace in 1968.
  • Roger MacBride of Virginia, another Nixon elector, cast his vote for Libertarian Party candidate John Hospers in 1972. A constitutional lawyer by training, MacBride had once written a book about the Electoral College, which he handed out to his fellow electors before casting his "faithless" vote.
  • Mike Padden of Washington State voted for Ronald Reagan rather than Gerald Ford in 1976.
  • Margarette Leach, a Democrat from West Virginia, voted in 1988 for vice presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen because she thought he was a better man than the presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis.

Now a number of liberal activists are trying to reverse the election and make Gore president. The website of the group misnamed Citizens for True Democracy,, lists the names and phone numbers of every Republican elector, with instructions for how they can be harassed and intimidated into switching their votes.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, December 18, 2000.


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