The Electoral College vote was today. I attended a rally in Olympia, the Capitol city of Washington. I am so glad I went! Some people in a group up here were leaving from Bellingham at 4:30 am! I didn’t leave until 7:30 and got there at about 10. It was amazing, from start to finish. It was definitely peaceful. There were probably about 200 people, with only 5 Trump supporters. As people arrived, we were greeted by organizers and gathered on the steps of the Legislative Building.
So, the side story: When I was 16, I was a Page for Audrey Mahaffey in the House of Representatives. I lived for the 2 months of the session with my Grandparents who lived a mile away. My Grandpa was a doorman for the House and we walked together to ‘work’ each morning. Today was the first time I’ve been back inside the House since then! Being a Page was a terrific experience. We did a lot of errands, stuffed envelopes and took messages. We often went to lunch at the Brown Derby Restaurant on Capitol Way which is still there! We had to be in school in a room on the same floor every morning for 2 hours. My Seattle school (Ingraham, where both Governor Jay Inslee and Trudy Inslee were in my class) didn’t require much homework for me, so I did a lot of reading writing letters back home. The group I served with were from all over the state. We had a lot of fun, learned a lot and during our last week, we had our own session. We put forth a bill to allow margarine to be used in school lunches. The debate was between the East Side of the Mountains, where agricultural interests prevailed and the West Side. It was great to remember all of this today. Oh, and there was a make out session in a car. That’s a tale for another time though…
There were a number of speakers during the hour before the vote. There are several grass roots organizations forming to take on issues such as getting rid of the Electoral College and forming a third party. It was cold, and drizzly, but there was a lot of enthusiasm and chanting.
My friend Jo Walter showed up in costume: The Emperor wears no clothes! She attracted quite a bit of attention!
At noon, we were allowed into the balcony/gallery on the 4th floor in the House. From there, we were able to watch on a big screen the proceedings of the vote. There was a specific format to be followed. Our Secretary of State introduced the session, followed by words from Governor Jay Inslee. There were several informal changes such as the Secretary forgot to ask people to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the session so it got added in after Inslee spoke. There was an election of the chair of the Electoral College, which had been done before they came in. Julie Johnson from the Lummi Nation was the chairperson. She asked another member to offer a blessing. He played a flute in the 4 directions.
Then the members cast their votes for President of the USA and signed their ballots, following the same procedure for Vice President.
The ballots are then compiled by the Secretary and sent to DC. While the tallying was being completed, each of the Electorates spoke briefly about why they ran for this position. Some of them offered charges to the voting public attending. The comments were as follows:
Levi Guerra: Continue learning about political process. Get involved!
Chris Porter: This is democracy in action. Four years ago there were only 12 people in the gallery!
Eric Herde and one other Elector expressed their hope that that this would be the last EC.
Robert Satiacum was told by an Elder that this would be his way to fulfill his responsibility to the people. He said he asked the the Elder, “Why did you do this to me?”
Elizabeth Caldwell spoke of her terminal cancer, recognizing that she most likely won’t be here in 4 years and was happy to be voting for the first woman.
Varisha Khan spoke of the influence of her Islam tradition of men and women giving to their community.
Joshua Ivey was proud to be the first transgender elector, quite possibly in the nation.
Dan Park spoke of the historical moment of voting for a woman as President and praised the change Bernie brought, also hoping this is the last EC. He shared a short story about how one drop of water is not much by itself, but many drops make a river. We the people make America great, it is not money that makes America Great.
Peter Chiafalo spoke of founding the Hamilton Electors and spoke of the rights and responsibilities of the Electors.
Esther John and her sister are both Electors. She took time to salute the Republicans for being involved in the process. Asked that we use the EC as a force for good. All Americans should be able to love and be protected.
Phillip Tyler of the NAACP in Spokane noted the great diversity in Washington’s EC.
Julie Johnson was thankful for the honor of serving as a Lummi Native American.
The Secretary of State sends a copy of the election to the archives in DC and a Judge of the Federal District Court. Each member signed a copy of the minutes to be able to report back to their committees.
Also interesting side note is that the photograph that appears in a Seattle Times article is taken by Greg Gilbert. Greg and his parents lived across the street from my Grandparents and he is recognized as one of the best photographers in the country. Seattle Times photo by Greg Gilbert
It was a long day begun with less than an optimal night’s sleep, three plus hour drive in rain, drinking 2 cups of coffee with no stops!, spending a good 20 minutes to find parking, standing in the cold, windy conditions, listening to speakers, observing the vote, having lunch at The Traditions Fair Trade Cafe with my friend Jo and a new friend Carol, arriving back home at 7:30pm. As I said at the beginning, I’m really glad I went.