Meet the Electoral College, America’s most important voter

Some famous names are among the 538 Americans who cast the most important votes when electing the President of the United States. But there are many people like Mary Arnold, a retired social worker, the first member of the Electoral College.

Ms. Arnold, a Democrat from Columbus, Wis., Will cast one of her state’s 10 voter votes on Monday for President-elect Joe Biden when national voters meet in their state.

“I caught you to ask,” he said. “I never thought I could be a voter.”

Ms Arnold, 72, who heads a party organization in her county, said she received a phone call from the state Democratic president in September asking if she wanted to be an voter. He was told he was chosen because he was a good local leader.

He said this will be the first time he has dressed since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic and he thinks he can celebrate the food he took during his 30-minute drive home from Madison. “I’ll probably be applying makeup for the first time in nine months,” he said.

“I didn’t even think I could be a voter,” says Mary Arnold. He laced a needle and stroked his dog as he held a Thursday meeting of Biden’s body magnifier.


Taylor Glascock for The Wall Street Journal (2)

The founders of the nation created the Electoral College as a compromise between those who supported a direct referendum and those who wanted legislators to elect presidents.

According to the Associated Press, Mr Biden won the national referendum by more than seven million votes. But what matters is that of all the electorate votes, 306, President Trump has 232 votes.

Mr Trump refused to accept the election result and faced dozens of legal challenges, with losses at all levels, including the U.S. Supreme Court. If he refused to let go, the mechanics of electing the president were in the spotlight.

The Constitution does not specify how voters are elected, and each state has its own process. Many are elected at state party conventions. In some cases, they are essentially selected by party leaders and then confirmed at a special state meeting.

Voters in some states are legally required to vote for a person who wins their state – a requirement that the Supreme Court said was allowed earlier this year. In others, so-called unbelieving voters can crack the lines, although this is rare.

The 59th Electoral College, which will meet on Monday, will be different due to the pandemic. In some states, the number of voters is limited. Others relocate meetings to larger spaces for social distance.

In Vermont, electors gather at 10 a.m., while Hawaiians do not gather until nine hours later.

Rachel Paule, an Atlanta suburban voter, prefers a system that avoids the all-win rules applied by most states.


Lynsey Weatherspoon to The Wall Street Journal

In each state, voters review election results and sign six certificates. The certificates contain two lists, one containing the election votes for the President and the other for the Vice President.

These certificates are then paired with papers from the governor of their state, and the material is sent by registered mail to a variety of locations, according to the Congressional Research Service. The uniform certificates will be sent to Vice President Mike Pence and the U.S. District Court for the area where the voters met. Two certificates shall be sent to both the Secretary of State or equivalent and the United States Archivist.


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The election vote will not be official until January 6, when Mr. Pence is expected to open correspondence from each state at a joint session of Congress and read out the amounts. As soon as the candidate reaches 270 voter votes, he or she will be declared the winner.

Some well-known people are voters. Hillary Clinton will be among the New York Democrats, as will her husband, Bill Clinton, a former president. Stacey Abrams, a former minority leader at Georgia House who barely lost the governorship in 2018, is also an voter.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Republican Elector, Ken Blackwell, was a former Ohio Secretary of State and treasurer. They both convincingly supported Trump.

Wisconsin, where Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump by about 20,000 votes, is a typical example of the composition of the electorate.

In addition to Ms. Arnold, the nine other democratic voters are the state party secretary, state representative, state senator, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, member of the Democratic National Committee, chairman of a tribal council, deputy governor, governor, and state party president.

Alaskan voter Judy Eledge, saying goodbye to her husband, Randy, when she goes to work, said she thought there should be no change in the Electoral College system.


Ash Adams to The Wall Street Journal

Judy Eledge, the principal of the retired elementary school, practices most of the weekday mornings at a water park and then attends a Pilates class.


Ash Adams to The Wall Street Journal

Some Democrats have called for the abolition of the Electoral College. According to a September poll by Gallup, 61% of American adults say the president should be elected by referendum, a figure that jumps to 89% among Democrats. Among Republicans, 77% support keeping the Electoral College unchanged.

Some participants this year say the system can use the update.

“I’m not sure it should be abolished, but the way it is now does not maintain the spirit of democracy in America,” said voter Rachel Paule, a suburban resident of Atlanta who is president of the Organization of Young Democrats in Georgia. “It’s an honor to be a part of this process, but I don’t think it’s a perfect process,” he said.

Ms. Paule, 27, was asked by her state party president in February to be an voter. He said he would prefer a system that avoids the all-win rules applied by all but two states. “We are the United States,” he said. “A man with a vote that doesn’t apply to the president is stupid to me.”

Alaskan voter Judy Eledge, a 73-year-old retired elementary school principal who runs the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, said she said the system should not be changed.

“If there is no Electoral College, then only the big cities will choose everything,” he said. “Our founders very cleverly planned this way.”

Ms. Eledge, who was elected at her party’s state congress in early April, will make a nearly two-hour flight over the frozen tundra to vote for Mr. Trump.

“I want to be a model for my fellow students,” said Tamon Hamlett, who is studying at the University of Houston.


Michael Starghill to The Wall Street Journal

Tamon Hamlett will have to drive to Austin, Texas for three hours to cast the Electoral College vote.


Michael Starghill to The Wall Street Journal

More than 3,000 miles southeast, Tamon Hamlett hopes his 2006 Nissan will endure the three-hour drive from Houston to Austin. The Texas college student plans to network around the state’s capital, before and after Trumpra’s vote.

Mr. Hamlett, a 19-year-old political scientist at the University of Houston, said he was elected under a July virtual state GOP convention. He hoped to be elected to the national convention, but fell behind and was elected as a voter instead.

“I’ve heard about it my whole life, but now I’m a part of it,” he said. “I want to be a model for my fellow students.”

Mr. Hamlett, who has never been to Austin, plans to bring a college friend with him. He said he understood that the state party would reimburse him for a hotel night and the petrol for his car. “I’m not old enough to actually rent a car,” he said.

Elector Mary Arnold walks her dog around Wisconsin.


Taylor Glascock to The Wall Street Journal

Write to him John McCormick at [email protected]

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