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Spin Control

Posts tagged: electoral college

News flash: Obama wins Washington

Rick Lloyd of Spokane Valley, center, and other members of Washington's Electoral College sign paperwork to cast the state's electoral votes for Barack Obama.

OLYMPIA – Forget what the news media told you six weeks ago. Barack Obama was elected to his second term as president Monday in a process that the Founding Fathers dreamed up in 1787 and has confounded Americans pretty regularly since.

The Electoral College – which doesn’t have a mascot, a fight song or even a campus – met at noon Monday in state capitals around the nation and awarded votes to Obama or Mitt Romney based on the general election results.

Each state gets one elector for each member of the U.S. House of Representatives and senator, so in Idaho, the four votes were cast for Republican Mitt Romney, even though the former Massachusetts governor has no chance of moving into the White House.

In Washington, where a majority of votes were cast for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, 12 men and women selected by Democratic activists gathered in the Capitol’s marble-walled Reception Room to do the official work of casting the Evergreen State’s ballots, which mostly involved signing their names to multiple sheets of paper with official writing and seals.

A bit tedious to watch, maybe, but exciting to be part of, electors said. . . 

It’s presidential election day. No, really. It is

OLYMPIA — The next president of the United States will be elected today.

Barring some real skullduggery so remote it can't be mapped out here, that will be Barack Obama.

What? You thought Obama was re-elected more than a month ago? It was in all the papers, and on all the cable news networks — even Fox News after Karl Rove calmed down?

Not exactly. That was the general election, but the president, as you will recall from junior high civics, is elected by the Electoral College.

The EC, as its closest friends call it, meets today. Not in one place, but in state capitals all over the nation. In Washington, they will meet in the State Reception Room at noon, where they are expected to cast the state's 12 votes for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Today’s best link: So many options for Obama & Romney

The New York Times has a great graphic you should bookmark for watching the returns tonight.

It looks at 512 different possible outcomes in the presidential race: 431 mean a victory for Barack Obama, 43 mean a victory for Mitt Romney, and 5 result in a tie. 

What happens if there's a tie? The U.S. House of Representatives picks the president and the Senate picks the vice president.

Has that ever happened? Not exactly. The Electoral College tied in 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, who technically were running on the same ticket, but that was under the original system the Founding Fathers set up in which the president was the person with the most EC votes and the vice president the person with the second most, regardless of party. The 12th Amendment changed that in 1803, and there hasn't been a tie since then.

Changing the game for presidential elections

How would you feel if you and 99 percent of Washington voted for Barack Obama last year, but the state’s Electoral College votes went for John McCain?

OK, you Republicans out there, stop rubbing you hands gleefully at the prospect. What would you say if the state’s voters went 99 percent for McCain, but its electoral votes went for Obama?

Those are far-fetched, but conceivable, scenarios for a future election under a law Gov. Chris Gregoire signed last week.

So is that a good law or a bad law? Depends on who you ask…

Go inside the blog to read more.

Wait a minute on that election change

A Shaw Island man filed Wednesday for a referendum to block the new law that would change the way Washington allocates its Electoral College votes.

The bill was signed this week by Gov. Chris Gregoire, and mentioned in Spin Control on Tuesday.

David John Anderson filed a request for the referendum with the Secretary of State’s office. He’ll have until July 25 to gather 120,577 valid signatures from Washington voters. If he’s successful, voters will decide in November whether they approve of the measure.

Technically, the law is put on hold until the referendum issue is resolved. But practically speaking, it’s probably on hold for much longer, because it requires states with a majority of Electoral College votes to enact similar legislation.

As the U.S. goes, so goes WA

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill today that could dramatically change presidential elections in  years to come. It could result in Washington voters picking one candidate, but the state’s Electoral College votes going to another.

SB 5569 is part of a national movement to “reform” the Electoral College system by tying it to the popular vote. If enough states sign onto the idea, the state’s will give their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Think of that for a minute.

In 1976, even though Washington voters backed Gerald Ford, Washington’s votes would have gone to Jimmy Carter. In 1988, even though Washington voters backed Michael Dukakis, the electoral votes would have gone to George H.W. Bush. In 2004, even though the state’s voters went for John Kerry, Washington’s electoral votes would have gone to George W. Bush.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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