Pennsylvania elector Carolyn Bunny Welsh holds her ballot for Donald Trump before casting it at the State Capitol. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

On Monday, Faith Spotted Eagle became one of 117 people in U.S. history to receive a vote for president in the electoral college.

As has been hammered into your brain over the past few weeks, it's the electoral college that does the actual electing of a president, generally following the will of the popular vote in the states they represent.

Generally, but not always. In Washington, as you probably know by now, one rogue elector — generally called a “faithless” elector, implying that they've acted in bad faith — cast a vote for Spotted Eagle, a Native American activist who has been part of the recent pipeline protests in South Dakota. Spotted Eagle is the first Native American woman to receive an electoral college vote for president.

She's not the only woman to do so, however. Two of the 117 people who've received electoral college votes for president were women, the second being a woman named Hillary Clinton. Clinton got about as many electoral votes on Monday as Martin Van Buren did in his two presidential runs — and would have passed his total were it not for those faithless electors. Seven candidates received electoral votes in 2016, the most since 1796, when electors were actually expected to pretty much do their own thing.


Colin Powell received three electoral votes, putting him in a three-way tie for 100th place all-time in electoral votes received. (Among those with whom he's tied is Horace Greeley, the founder of the New York Tribune, who received three votes in 1872.) Sen. Bernie Sanders got a vote, too, as did Ron Paul and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. They join some other names with one electoral vote: Lloyd Bentsen and John Edwards. Both of their votes came from faithless electors, too.

The all-time champion in most electoral votes won is, of course, Franklin Roosevelt, who handily won four presidential elections, cobbling together an impressive 1,876 total votes. In second is Richard Nixon, who got a large number of votes in three races: 1960, 1968 and 1972. In third is Ronald Reagan, who had big wins in 1980 and 1984. But he came into the 1980 election with an electoral vote in his past, too; in 1976, a faithless elector jumped the gun a bit and cast his ballot for Reagan four years before it mattered. (Reagan had challenged the nomination of incumbent President Gerald Ford that year — almost successfully.)

Below, the all-time ranking of electoral votes received by candidates. Winners are colored relative to the parties they represented.


The winning candidates are clustered at the top of the chart, as you'd expect, because they won more electoral college votes. Those who won multiple times are higher still. (Those who ran multiple times are up there, too, like William Jennings Bryan.)

The chart puts Donald Trump's win in some context. He's among the lowest-performing modern-era presidential winners — then again, he has run only once. The highest recent losing candidate is Al Gore, who, like Clinton, beat his opponent in the popular vote.

It's at the bottom where things are more interesting -- all these relatively random people who, at some point in time, were considered possible presidents by some members of the electoral college.

And this year's one-electoral-vote winner could be 2020's landslide victor, the path Reagan took from 1976 to 1980. You never know. President Spotted Eagle certainly has a ring to it.