Electors planning to keep the faith


Associated Press

Hold on – there’s one more election to go. But next week’s meeting of the Electoral College should be wrapped up quickly, though with a great deal more attention than in years past.

There will be speeches, catered breakfasts, high school color guards – and a crush of media on Monday for what is usually a little-noticed affair.

Officials promise no surprises or hangups. “There’s no punch cards,” said Randy Nehrt, a spokesman for Illinois’ secretary of state. “We don’t have to deal with any chads.”

In each state, a slate of electors pledged to the candidate who won in that state will gather to cast the electoral votes. The votes will be read in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.

On Monday, electors will gather in their respective capitals – sometimes in a small office, sometimes in grand legislative chambers. Meetings are usually perfunctory: a few comments, an hour or less of signing documents.

A few states, however, add a little pizzaz. North Carolina will break from the past and bring in a high school color guard, while in Montana a student will sing the national anthem. Students will watch in Indiana and Connecticut. Illinois will cater a continental breakfast.

“Sometimes your friends might come by and give you a lei,” said Joy Kobashigawa-Lewis, a secretary and Democratic elector from Hawaii who was also an elector in 1996.

There is still a slim chance that the college could upset this most contested of elections.

In electoral votes, President-elect George W. Bush holds a scant lead over Vice President Al Gore, 271-267. If two electors broke their pledges to Bush, it would throw the election to the U.S. House. If three did, it would give the election to Gore.

There have been weeks of speculation and questions about “faithless electors,” but no elector has said he or she would consider such a step.

“I don’t take it lightly,” said Claude Billings, a North Carolina elector for Bush. “I’ll certainly stick by my party. I always have.”

Florida’s electors keep getting letters telling them what to do about their promise.

“On both sides of the issue,” said Tom Slade, a Bush elector from Florida who has cast the state’s electoral votes twice before. ” ‘Do the right thing and vote for Gore, he really won.’ And ‘Stay the course.’ But I can’t imagine that any of Florida’s electors would be remotely tempted.”

In Louisiana, Bush elector and GOP Gov. Mike Foster said his computer this morning was jammed with 1,100 e-mails urging him to break his pledge and vote for Gore. He said he wouldn’t.

In many states, laws bind electors to their pledge, but others – like Florida – have no such law. Some legal scholars say those laws are not based in the Constitution and probably are unenforceable.

Several electors in the past have broken their pledge, most recently in 1988, but never in a close election where it could change the result.

Though many states say they are making arrangements for the media to attend, most say nothing else will change this year. In Iowa, the traditional photographs will be snapped and placed in the Red Book, the state’s historic record.

In Indiana, Secretary of State Sue Anne Gilroy plans to take the opportunity to propose improvements in her state’s voting system. Forty-two counties there use old punch-card systems, like the ones that added confusion to Florida’s election.

In most states, the electors’ votes are cast in public. In a few, like Washington, Indiana and Minnesota, the votes are cast in secret ballots. Each elector votes once for president and once for vice president.

Each state’s result is copied six times, with one copy each sent to the U.S. Senate and the chief judge of the federal district, and two copies each to the state’s secretary of state and to the U.S. archivist in Washington.

“I’m 59 and I don’t think I’ll ever see another election this close, and I will be one of the deciding votes,” said Anie Kent, a Bush elector from Tennessee. “I’ll be part of history.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Retooling drug laws, protecting octopus and honoring a cactus

It’s already Day 26. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

April Berg, left, and John Lovick
Snohomish County legislators talk race, policy in Seattle

Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick chatted about Tyre Nichols and education at an event kicking off Black History Month.

Tala Davey-Wraight, 3, is thrown in the air by her dad Oscar Davey-Wraight, one of the Summer Meltdown headliners also known as Opiuo, during Cory Wong’s set on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After Monroe debut, no Summer Meltdown music fest in 2023

Organizers announced Wednesday they would “take the year off in order to figure out the best path forward for Summer Meltdown in 2024.”

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
High winds in Everett, north Puget Sound expected Friday

Winds could top 40 mph in Everett — and likely higher farther north — causing power outages and tree damage.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace council taps planning commissioner for open seat

With five votes, Rory Paine-Donovan was affirmed to join the ranks of the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

Federal agents seized many pounds of meth and heroin, along with thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, at a 10-acre property east of Arlington in mid-December 2020. (U.S. Attorney’s Office) 20201223
Leader of Snohomish County fentanyl, meth ring gets federal prison

A search of Cesar Valdez-Sanudo’s property in Arlington unearthed kilos of drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Karla Wislon holds a champagne glass while celebrating the closing sale of her home in Palm Springs, Ca. on May 14, 2021. (Family photo)
Former state Rep. Karla Wilson, 88, remembered as ‘smart, energetic’

Wilson served the 39th Legislative district from 1985 to 1991. She died Dec. 31.

Most Read