Monday, December 15, 2008

Electoral College Highlights

Obama Elected

OK, maybe I'm making too big a deal over the Electoral College thing. But a Kos diarist was following the "election returns" until it became officially official. I thought I was the only one.

No faithless electors, but here's some highlights:

  • Illinois met in the state Senate chambers as a tribute to Obama, who served in that chamber. At least two Illinois electors said they would favor direct election instead.

  • But one Pennsylvania elector favors the system: "'The candidates' need for Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes is why our state has been a battleground in the past five presidential elections,' Wagner said. 'Why would we want to give up our leadership role in picking our nation's leader?'"

  • Also an Obama elector in Pennsylvania: ex-Steeler Franco Harris. Teammate Lynn Swann, the 2006 Republican nominee for governor, was not available for comment.

  • Apparantly our own governor likes the college too: "'If we were ever going to change it we would have done it over the last eight years,' said Culver. 'You have to give small states an opportunity to be relevant.'" An elector from the most over-represented state, Wyoming, also chimes in for the college. A West Virginian admits, "the way the math works on it smaller states like West Virginia actually get a little higher percentage of the electoral votes than they would if it was strictly on the number of popular votes," as does the Montana Secretary of State.

  • While federal officials can't be electors, Senator-designate Ted Kaufmann, Joe Biden's replacement, was a Delaware elector.

  • But governors and state legisators are OK, as in Wisconsin: "State Sen. Fred Risser, who's about to start his 53rd legislative session and is the longest serving state lawmaker in the country, quipped that he first cast an electoral vote in 1964.

    'Who was elected then, Lincoln?' Gov. Doyle joked."

  • Speaking of Lincoln, from Lincoln, Nebraska (where?), here's the story of the Nebraska Democratic elector. As I predicted, "(Gov.) Heineman and a number of other leading Republicans have signaled their support for legislative repeal of the district election system next year."

  • Maryland had to meet in temporary space due to State Capitol construction.

  • Indiana: One elector asked, “Are we going to need a photo ID?” in reference to Indiana’s photo ID to vote law, passed by Republicans and opposed b Dems. Obama was the first Democrat to carry Indiana since 1964, and no, the electors didn't have to show ID. Humorist Mo Rocca was also on hand in Indianapolis.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that state's plans varied widely, from a Vermont meeting that was expected to last 20 minutes to elaborate dog and pony shows in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    In general, ceremonies were more elaborate in states that hadn't gone Democratic in ages. As opposed to, say, Utah, where, in "considerably less pomp than in past elections," "the entire ceremony took about 10 minutes and President-elect Barack Obama was not mentioned once." Or Tennessee, which took 18 minutes. But not all the Dems dragged it out: the governor of Wisconsin got the business done in ten minutes.

  • One North Dakota elector was going to be replaced because he didn't want to come back from vacation in Arizona just to vote for John McCain. A Colorado Democrat was ill, and a Mississippi Republican was a no-show and got replaced.

  • No secret ballot in North Carolina -- electors signed their names. (Maybe because of the Humphrey elector who voted for George Wallace in `68.) In Oklahoma, failure to vote for your party's candidate is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000--because of the Nixon elector who defected in 1960. And in Colorado, "the electors held up their ballots to show they had marked Obama's name."

  • Humor between rivals in Albany, New York: "Gov. David Paterson was nominated and voted in as the College's president. The nomination was offered by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, prompting Paterson to say 'Thank you for nominating me, maybe I can return the favor sometime.'"

  • "In New Hampshire, state law specifies that the four electors be paid $3 each, plus 10 cents per mile for their travel to and from Concord."

  • No mistakes in Minnesota, unlike 2004: "State law was changed a year later to make the electors say who they would vote for out loud before they write it down."
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