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Votes

Electors Vote for a President

The Electoral College will meet and vote next week

On Dec. 13, the Electoral College will presumably elect George W. Bush president of the United States. Sean Spicer of Alexandria will be one of the 538 people who will actually get to decide who the leader of the free world really is. He was chosen by Virginia’s Eighth District Republican caucus to be their representative to this year’s Electoral College.

“It’s not like I woke up one day and had this burning desire to be an elector but as someone who is involved in politics and government, I thought it would be interesting to be involved in this way,” Spicer said.

He campaigned for the position just as one would campaign for any elected office. “I had to pay $2,500 to be on the ballot at the caucus,” he said.

“Just before the caucus, I contacted the delegates and asked for their support. There weren’t really any other candidates who were well known so I thought I had a good chance,” he said.

The campaign cost around $4,000, but in the end, Spicer was victorious. “I have always been politically active in Alexandria in civic organizations and serving on Boards and Commissions,” he said. “This was the next step for me.”

But why the Electoral College? “It’s an interesting body,” Spicer said. “Most of the time it isn’t really relevant but there are times when it is. For example, what if the president and vice president die before the Electoral College meets? There are provisions for what electors do.

“We live in a representative democracy and I am going to be one of those people whose vote really counts.”

Twice, the Electoral College has decided who was elected president. In 1888, the Electoral College voted for Benjamin Harrison, who did not win the popular vote. In 2000, George W. Bush was elected by the Electoral College but also did not win the popular vote.

That will not be the case this year, because Bush won the popular vote and has sufficient electors committed to ensure victory in the Electoral College. All states except two are “winner take all” states, meaning whoever won the popular vote in that state takes all of that state’s electoral votes.

What if a committed elector decided to vote for someone else?

“That could happen, I guess, but if I did something like that, I would be a footnote in some history book and could read about it from Canada,” Spicer said.

Is the Electoral College still relevant? “I really think it is,” Spicer said. “That is not to say that it couldn’t be reformed. There are many things we could consider. For example, if a state’s popular vote is won by a candidate, give two electors to that candidate and allow each District’s electors to vote for the candidate who won that particular district. That’s the kind of compromise that might work.”

For now, however, Virginia’s electors are expected to vote for George W. Bush on Dec. 13, and he almost certainly will be officially certified as our next president.

<1b>— Carla Branch