By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — For many people, the Electoral College is a dusty memory from high school civics class — an often overlooked part of presidential elections.
Snohomish High School senior Grifynn Clay sees his recent selection as a Democratic elector from the 1st Congressional District as a way to show others his age the impact they can have.
Clay was selected during a recent Democratic Party meeting at Glacier Peak High School. Each person who sought the post was allowed a one-minute speech.
The youth vote is the most underrepresented group in the country, he said. “Electing me would show other people my age they can make a difference and they can have an enormous impact on the system,” Clay said.
Next month, he will attend the state Democratic convention in Seattle, where the electors will be formally chosen. One will come from each congressional district and two will be selected statewide, said Patrick McDonald, who works in the office of Washington’s Secretary of State.
Washington’s Republican Party has a similar elector selection process.
Clay, who turns 18 in July, said he attended precinct caucuses earlier this year and previously volunteered in Democrat Maria Cantwell’s campaigns for U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2006.
Clay will start classes at Gonzaga University in Spokane in late August, where he plans on earning a business degree.
He said he hopes to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 3-7.
“Eventually I want to run for public office,” he said.
If Barack Obama wins the most votes in Washington in the November presidential election, Clay and other Democratic electors will go to Olympia in December to cast their ballots as members of the Electoral College.
“In reality, no one is voting for the president of the United States,” McDonald said. “They’re really voting for the members of the Electoral College.”
It’s only been in the past 30 to 40 years that the names of those running for president and vice president were listed on Washington ballots, McDonald said.
In all but two states, the winning presidential candidate gets the block vote of all the state’s electoral votes.
The candidate who gets 270 or more of the 538 electoral votes is elected president.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.