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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington electors cast their 12 votes for Biden and Harris

OLYMPIA – Patricia Whitefoot of White Swan, a m ember of the Yakama Tribe, marks her Washington Electoral College vote for Joe Biden for president with a ceremonial quill-shaped pen Monday. Whitefoot was one of 12 electors who wore masks while meeting in the the state Senate Chambers to allow for adequate social distancing.  (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – Although the outcome was expected, Monday’s meeting of the Washington’s presidential electors was not routine.

Masked and socially distanced, the state’s 12 electors met on the floor of the state Senate and cast their votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris after an emotional Secretary of State Kim Wyman said their actions should “mark an end to one of the most contentious elections” in recent history.

By the time electors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia had met Monday, Biden received 306 electoral votes to President Donald Trump’s 232 votes. Those 51 tallies will be sent to Congress, which on Jan. 6 is expected to accept the Electoral College results, with Biden and Harris inaugurated on Jan. 20.

“While some people continue to call into 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,” Wyman said. “This is the American way of governance.”

Biden’s win in Monday’s Electoral College tally reflects his more than 7-million vote advantage in the nationwide popular vote.

Wyman, who was presiding over her second meeting of the state’s presidential electors, later told reporters she wasn’t choked up so much by the constitutional nature of the event. Rather, it was because the state’s director of elections has had her photo posted on a website with the cross hairs of a rifle scope superimposed on her face and her home address.

The website lists her among elections officials around the country who have “aided and abetted the fraudulent election against Trump,” Wyman said. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have been notified.

Wyman, the only statewide elected Republican official, said a state trooper was stationed at her home Saturday when some Trump supporters clashed with antifascist counterdemonstrators.

The website is calling for actions against elections officials in battleground states for the presidential election. Biden easily won in the state of Washington last month, receiving 58.4% of the statewide popular vote to Trump’s 39%, and the Trump campaign never challenged the presidential vote totals in the state.

But GOP gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, who lost to incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee by more than half a million votes, has continued to contest the outcome of that race, even though the results were certified earlier this month.

Last week, Culp filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court claiming his civil rights were violated by improperly distributed ballots.

Trump joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Republican attorneys general of 16 other states in challenging the vote counts from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan. Washington joined 22 other states opposing the challenge.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider that case last Friday, saying that Trump and the states mounting the challenge had presented “no judicially cognizable interest” in one state questioning how another state conducts its elections.

Republican electors in those four challenged states also met to cast votes for Trump, in case a court challenge in the future clears the way for them to be counted. But for their votes to count, the Democratically controlled House would have to reject those states’ Biden voters and accept the uncertified Trump votes.

Washington’s electors, who were chosen by delegates to the Democratic State Convention in the summer, expressed no doubt that Biden and Harris will be sworn in next month.

Patricia Whitefoot, a member of the Yakama Tribe who gave a greeting in her tribal language, said casting their votes was important work, but just the beginning.

“We all have to roll up our sleeves and get ready to go to work,” she said. “We’re at a crossroads today and it’s up to each and every one of us to work together and bring our children along, our families along as we continue to make life better.”

Some electors suggested the system needed change.

Sophia Danenberg of Seattle said she was proud to vote for Kamala Harris, the first female vice president, who like her is “Blasian,” with a Black father and an Asian mother. But she described the Electoral College as a Byzantine process that “distorts our democracy” and causes Americans to wait and see if a candidate who won 7 million more votes actually won the election.

“While a constitutional amendment may be far off, I do hope to see the National Popular Vote compact, of which this great state is a party, go into effect in my lifetime,” Danenberg said.

The National Popular Vote compact would require a state in the compact to award its electors to the winner of the overall popular vote, regardless of the winner in their state. It would go into effect when states with a majority of the Electoral College delegates pass it as a law.

Washington passed the law in 2009. Although states with a total of 196 votes have signed on to the compact, a majority in the Electoral College is 270.

“The Electoral College is not great, but it’s the system we have in place,” said Jack Arends of Everett, who called Monday’s vote the beginning of the end of the Trump administration.

“I was glad to do my duty and rid our nation of a petty dictator,” he said, adding it will be up to others to do the hard work of healing the nation.

Jim Camden can be reached at (509) 879-7461 or