The Electoral College voted today, bringing the weirdest election in generations to a suitably strange end. The final tally: 304 votes for Donald Trump, 227 for Hillary Clinton, three for Colin Powell, one for Ron Paul, one for Bernie Sanders, one for John Kasich, and one for anti-DAPL activist Faith Spotted Eagle. Trump was "supposed" to get 306, but two Republican electors in Texas broke with the pack, one voting for Kasich and one for Paul. Clinton was "supposed" to get 232, but four Democrats in Washington state and one in Hawaii decided to go rogue too. (The Sanders voter was the Hawaiian.)
The last time this many people showed up in the Electoral College results was 1796, and that was back when presidential and vice-presidential candidates were selected from the same vote.
Clinton would have had an even lower total if three states hadn't reeled in their rebels. A Democratic elector in Maine initially voted for Sanders, but his ballot was ruled improper so he changed his choice. An elector in Minnesota tried to back Sanders too, but the authorities replaced him with a pro-Clinton alternate. And a Colorado elector tried to vote for Kasich, but he was bumped by an alternate as well. In Texas, meanwhile, one elector resigned rather than vote for Trump. There too, a substitute was found.
A seven-vote switch might seem anticlimactic after all the hype around the "Hamilton electors," a group with big plans to organize a mass insurgency, throw the election into the House, and deny Donald Trump the presidency. But that scenario was always extremely unlikely, and you shouldn't let it distract you from how unusual these results are. While it's not exactly uncommon to see an elector vote for someone other than the presidential candidate to whom he is pledged, this is the first time since the 19th century that more than one elector has done that in the same election. And the first time since the 18th century that this many people got electoral votes.
It was a fitting end for a campaign where the two-party façade couldn't conceal the thirst for more choices. In a year where both major parties picked their least popular nominees in recent memory, third-party and independent candidates had their strongest showing in two decades. Even the write-ins did better than usual: Sanders, who wasn't running, picked up nearly 6 percent of the popular vote in Vermont. And now the Electoral College has allowed Sanders, Ron Paul, John Kasich, Colin Powell, and Faith Spotted Eagle onto the scoreboard. Call it the long-tail election: Again and again this year, Americans looked at the choices before them and said, I'd prefer something else.