By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Washington’s 12 electors on Monday unanimously cast their votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who won 58% of the state’s vote last month.
The votes were cast were part of Electoral College meetings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Washington’s meeting was not open to the general public, but was broadcast live on TVW, the state’s government affairs channel.
The vote, which usually is held in the state reception room, was moved to the Senate chamber to ensure physical distancing between the electors, officials and media.
Nationally, there are 538 electors who vote on the president and vice president. A candidate must receive 270 of the 538 total electoral votes to become president. Democrat Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 election with 306 Electoral College votes, while President Donald Trump finished with 232. Biden received more than 81 million votes, while Trump had more than 74 million.
Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman said that the ceremony and tradition of the meeting mark “an end to one of the most contentious elections of our time and symbolize the foundation of our constitutional republic.”
Wyman got emotional while talking to the 12 electors about the vote they were about to take.
“While some people continue to question the outcome of this election, average citizens from all walks of life will step up today to exercise their responsibility to perform their constitutional duty to the best of their ability,” she said. “This is an important ceremony. This is the American way of governance. This is democracy in action.”
The Electoral College vote is normally a fairly procedural step in the presidential election, but its importance is heightened this year because Trump is refusing to concede his loss. He and his allies have filed roughly 50 lawsuits and most have been dropped or dismissed by judges, including twice by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There has been an unprecedented attack on the very foundations of democracy in our nation recently, and you are standing against that,” Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee told electors before they cast their votes. “The fact is we had a free and fair election this year, in spite of the challenges of the pandemic. And the people’s voices were heard, and counted, loud and clear.”
Elector Jack Arends cried as he spoke of why he cast his vote for Biden and Harris.
“Today was the chance to begin the end of the Trump administration,” he said. “I was glad to do my duty and rid our nation of a petty dictator.”
There were a record number of voters in the state participating in last month’s election, with more than 4.1 million voters casting a ballot, leading to the state’s second highest turnout percentage of 84.1%.
Elector Sophia Danenberg said that as the daughter of a Japanese mother and an African American father, she was especially proud to cast her vote for Harris, whom she called a “fellow Blasian.”
But she said that she hopes that “one day we will eliminate this byzantine process that distorts our democracy, where we have to wait to see if the candidate who got 7 million more votes actually won the election.”