Electoral College casts official votes
Obama on course to get 332 votes from electors in states.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — Tradition trumped suspense Monday as members of the Electoral College cast the official, final votes in the 2012 presidential election, a constitutional formality on President Barack Obama’s march to a second term.
The rite playing out in state capitols involved party luminaries and tireless activists carrying out the will of each state’s voters. The popular vote from state-to-state dictates whether Democratic or Republican electors get the honor, but the outcome is not in doubt.
Obama is on course to get 332 votes to Republican Mitt Romney’s 206, barring defectors known as “faithless electors.” Electors also were affirming Joe Biden for another term as vice president.
“Everybody votes for president, but nobody gets a real vote except a presidential elector,” said elector Mike Bohan of Oregon, which was in Obama’s column.
Wisconsin’s electors donned pin-on buttons with headshots of the president. A bit of controversy erupted in Arizona, where a few electors voiced doubts that Obama was “properly vetted as a legitimate candidate for president” by raising debunked claims about his birth certificate.
In New Hampshire, electors supporting Obama signed their four ballots and then certificates that were sealed in envelopes with wax that has been in the secretary of state’s office for more than 70 years.
In a rotunda decked out for the holidays, Minnesota’s 10 electors called out the name “Barack Obama” one after another in an exercise meant to avoid a miscue that left the state with an accidental faithless elector in 2004.
Vermont’s meeting of three electors was witnessed by a fifth-grade class.
“It was an amazing teachable opportunity,” said Cindy Tan, a teacher at Chamberlin School in South Burlington. “It only happens every four years.”
Connecticut’s electors convened in the state Senate chamber and solemnly remembered the victims of last week’s school shooting before carrying out their task.
The certified tally sheets are on their way to Washington, where Congress will officially count them on Jan. 6.
The 12th Amendment directs the electors chosen by the states to meet and vote for president and vice president. Each state gets its equivalent in the 435-member House and the 100member Senate. The District of Columbia gets the other three electors.
With the Electoral College in focus, advocates for revamping the current system seized on the chance to argue for a change guaranteeing the national popular vote winner is elected president.