Reflecting the winner-take-all nature of the Electoral College system, Washington’s electors on Monday awarded all 12 of the state’s electoral votes to the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
The event, convened by Secretary of State Sam Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire, went off the clockwork. The carefully scripted, time-honored process was much like the one taking place in all state capitals.
As flags outside the Capitol stood at half-staff, electors gathered in the State Reception Room and observed a minute of silence in memory of Friday’s school massacre in Connecticut.
Then, with Chair Heather Fralick of Shoreline presiding, the electors signed multiple copies of documents affirming, first, that Obama was their choice for president, and then, that Biden was their pick for vice president. Electors are supposed to reflect their party’s ticket — and indeed there is a law that says so and that imposes a fine on any “faithless elector,” as occurred at least once in the state’s history.
The electors, alternates, families and party officials cheered as the votes were announced.
Reed called it an historic day for the participants. He acknowledged that using the indirect method of the College, rather than the popular vote, remains controversial. He added:
“The Electoral College is a key step in how America chooses its president and vice president. While it lacks the attention and excitement of last November’s popular election, the Electoral College vote carries the same impact.”
“I am honored to bear witness today to the election of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden. This ceremony, as with Electoral College votes across the country, reflects our dedication to the democratic process and commitment to open and transparent government.”
Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of senators and representatives it has in the U.S. Congress. Of Washington’s 12 presidential electors, one is from each of the state’s 10 congressional districts. Those 10 were selected at congressional district caucuses last May. The two at-large electors were chosen at the state Democratic Party convention in Seattle last June.
The 12 electors were:
1st District: Grifynn Clay of Snohomish;
2nd District: Dave Gossett of Mountlake Terrace;
3rd District: Kathleen Lawrence of Vancouver;
4th District: George Fearing of Kennewick;
5th District: Rick Lloyd of Spokane Valley;
6th District: Gail Kirk of Tacoma;
7th District: Maria Ehsan of Seattle;
8th District: Elizabeth Satiacum of Olympia;
9th District: Georgia Spencer of Seattle; and
10th District: Harvey Brooks of University Place.
At-large electors are Heather Fralick of Shoreline and Alec Stephens of Seattle.
Fralic was chosen by the electors as the presiding officer during the vote.
Dec. 17 was the date for electors to meet in each of the states to cast votes for president and vice president. In all states but two (Maine and Nebraska), the
winner of the popular vote in that state wins all of the electoral votes in that state.
The document signed by the state’s 12 electors will be mailed to Vice President Biden’s office and the U.S. Archivist. On Jan. 6, Congress will convene in a joint session to count the votes cast by the Electoral College. Obama will be inaugurated as president Jan. 20 in a private swearing-in ceremony. Because the 2013 presidential Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the public inauguration ceremony will take place Jan. 21.
Obama defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney 50.9 percent to 47.4 percent in the nationwide popular vote. Obama is estimated to have amassed 332 electoral votes compared to Romney’s 206. Obama needed 270 electoral votes to win the presidential election.
Obama gathered 56.16 percent of the vote in Washington, received 1,755,396 votes. Romney and running mate Paul Ryan pulled in 1,290,670 votes (41.29 percent).