Jack Arends, 64, of Everett, the lone elector from Snohomish County among Washington’s 12. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jack Arends, 64, of Everett, the lone elector from Snohomish County among Washington’s 12. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

His health in decline, elector was grateful to cast his vote

Jack Arends of Everett doesn’t know how long his heart will last, but he was determined to fulfill his duty.

OLYMPIA — No surprises or stray votes sidetracked Washington’s Democratic electors from selecting Joe Biden as the nation’s next president Monday afternoon.

From the socially distanced confines of the Senate Chambers, a communal sigh of relief and modest applause followed Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s announcement that the state’s 12 Electoral College ballots were cast for president-elect Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris. The Democratic ticket won Washington with nearly 58% of the popular vote.

“The ceremony and tradition of this meeting marked an end to one of the most contentious elections of our time,” said Wyman, her voice quavering with emotion. “While some people continue to call into question this election, average citizens from all walks of life will step up today to exercise their responsibility to perform their constitutional duty.”

Jack Arends, 64, of Everett, was one of 538 electors nationwide with that honor and onus Monday. As the lone elector from Snohomish County, the self-described grassroots activist represented the 2nd Congressional District on his mission to Olympia. With a life-threatening medical condition, he’s just glad he had the opportunity.

“This was something I never anticipated, but the moment and the issues kind of came together and I thought it was something I had to do,” he told The Daily Herald last week.

As COVID-19 chaos cancelled party conventions and caucuses, Arends, a precinct committee officer for two decades, recognized an opportunity to return normalcy to the elector position.

In 2016, four Washington electors went rogue, breaking a pledge to cast their votes for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who captured the most votes.

Jack Arends, a member of Washington’s Electoral College from Everett, holds up the markers he used to cast his votes for the president and vice president of the United States at the state Capitol in Olympia on Monday as he waits to take part in a group photo. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Jack Arends, a member of Washington’s Electoral College from Everett, holds up the markers he used to cast his votes for the president and vice president of the United States at the state Capitol in Olympia on Monday as he waits to take part in a group photo. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Three of the “faithless electors,” including Bret Chiafalo, of Everett, cast ballots for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one supported Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American leader in South Dakota.

Days after his selection as an elector, Arends’ role took on additional meaning. Doctors told him a heart valve problem was inoperable, he said. After 64 years, Arends’ days were numbered.

Still, he had no hesitation about the job left to finish.

“I don’t know how much time I am going to have on this earth, but I am going to make it count while I am here and that includes being an elector,” Arends told The Herald ahead of the proceedings. “It’s that one last box I want to check — I am determined to check it.”

In a suit and Kangol brimmed cap, Arends entered the floor of the Senate in a wheelchair and was greeted by scattered applause from fellow electors.

With pomp and circumstance at a minimum, Wyman, a Republican, and Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, briefly addressed the electors.

“What we are going to prove today is masks don’t stop the voices of democracy,” the governor said.

Wyman then began the heavily scripted process of casting and confirming selections.

Jack Arends (left) is comforted by fellow elector Julian Wheeler on Monday in Olympia after Arends became emotional while talking about his failing health and the importance of being able to cast his vote. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Jack Arends (left) is comforted by fellow elector Julian Wheeler on Monday in Olympia after Arends became emotional while talking about his failing health and the importance of being able to cast his vote. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Forgoing the ceremonial quill pens used to cast elector ballots, Arends used a permanent marker to cast his vote for the Democrats. Fatigued by President Donald Trump signing legislation in a similar fashion, Arends figured he would use a Sharpie to deliver a bold and indelible message of his own: Biden won.

Despite weekend clashes between anti-facist protesters and right-wing supporters that included a shooting on the capitol campus — a 25-year-old Shoreline man was arrested in connection with the incident — the proceeding went off without a hitch.

After votes were cast, electors were given a chance to address the floor.

“Today is a chance to begin the end of the Trump administration. I was glad to do my duty …” Arends said. “It will be up to others to do the hardest work of rebuilding our nation as my health is fading.”

After his remarks, Arends wept silently, his head down against the wooden desk.

“It’s a great weight lifted from my shoulders being able to do this,” he said. “I feel gratified to do what we were elected to do.”

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Everett
Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Ryan Rafter appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to life in prison for murder of Everett father

In April 2022, Ryan Rafter, 42, shot Christopher Buck, 29, to death after breaking in to his home to steal drugs.

Marysville
Driver strikes, kills Marysville man who was crossing I-5 in Seattle

The man’s car had broken down near Mercer Street. Troopers reported that he was struck when he tried to cross the freeway.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Darrington woman stabbed, buried 5-year-old daughter

The woman reportedly told investigators she was hearing voices before she killed her young daughter on Valentine’s Day.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

A person walks out of the Snohomish County Corrections building on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County Jail review finds no fault in Florida inmate’s death

David Koeppen, 38, was the third inmate in two months to die in the jail. He was being held on murder charges.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. After the speech, Inslee signed a bill sponsored by McCoy that seeks to improve oral health on Indian reservations in Washington state. The measure is the first bill the governor has signed this legislative session and it allows tribes to use federal funding for dental therapists. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Curriculum on state tribes to be renamed after late Tulalip legislator

On Tuesday, John McCoy’s former colleagues in the Senate honored the late lawmaker by passing House Bill 1879.

Lynnwood
Man stabbed, killed inside Lynnwood-area condo

Detectives were looking to identify suspects in a killing Monday night at the Brio Condominiums.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.