He of little faith
Henry D. Irwin’s name didn’t make the Oklahoma history books, but in a presidential election year it’s worth a mention.
In 1960, Irwin was an example of what’s known as a “faithless elector.” That’s someone who pledges to vote for one ticket when the Electoral College meets and then breaks the pledge.
Irwin pledged to vote for the Richard Nixon/Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. ticket in 1960 when that Republican slate won in Oklahoma. Instead, Irwin voted for two non-candidates, Democrat Harry Byrd for president and Republican Barry Goldwater for vice president.
More than 150 instances of “faithless electors” have been noted through history; none has changed the final outcome of an election. Irwin reportedly said he just didn’t like Nixon, despite his pledge.
It was moot, of course, because an Electoral College majority chose John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson that year. Johnson’s election to the presidency four years later (over Goldwater) was the last time the state’s electoral votes went to the Democratic ticket.
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