It’s a detailed ritual every four years – the official election of the president and vice president of the United States by the Electoral College. It happened in statehouses around the country today, and as Ohio Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, for some it was more than just a formality.
Secretary of State Jon Husted started the 53rd Electoral College meeting in the Ohio Senate chambers right at noon with a brief moment of silence for the victims of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut.
And Husted was the only Republican to speak at this event. He handed the gavel off to Democratic U.S. Rep.-elect Joyce Beatty of Columbus, and then it passed to Ohio Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern, who was selected as chair of the college.
Redfern thanked his staffers and Democratic party officials throughout Ohio before welcoming the electors from each of Ohio’s 16 Congressional districts.
REDFERN: “To all of you present, congratulations. This historic day marks as what the secretary of state so aptly pointed out the retention of power and another four years for President Obama.”
The state gets an electoral vote from each Congressional district and for each of its two U.S. Senators. Those two at-large electors were Redfern and former Gov. Ted Strickland, who gave the keynote address. Strickland said the vote is a celebration of the final part of any campaign, after the announcements, the press conferences, the ads and the speeches.
STRICKLAND: “And the people speak by collectively registering their opinions as to who they choose to have lead us. And that is magnificent, regardless of who is the winner and who is the loser.”
The 18 electors are faithful party members and officeholders who are selected to cast the official votes for president and vice president at this meeting. The votes are collected and counted. Then each elector comes up and signs the six ballots that indicate the official votes. Among the 18 electors: Cathina Hourani of Liberty Township in Butler County in southwest Ohio, Pernel Jones Jr. of Cleveland and Michael Friedman of Springfield Township near Toledo.
HOURANI: “It’s very touching to be a part of our political process.”
JONES: “It really is an honor. It truly is.”
FRIEDMAN: “It’s humbling. I mean, we’re a – I well up every time I think about it.”
Among those in the chamber watching the process is Peg Rosenfield with the League of Women Voters. She’s seen the electoral college meet in Ohio half a dozen times, and says while it is heavily scripted, the peaceful transfer of power is something to see.
ROSENFIELD: “And it is impressive particularly to me that the officials of one party go through the ritual of electing a member of the opposite party as president and there are not a whole lot of countries that can pull that off. A lot of countries, the only way they can change power is to have a revolution.”
Barack Obama and Joe Biden are set to receive 332 votes from electors, unless any electors defect. Those votes will be officially counted by Congress on Jan. 6.