Monday, December 20, 2004

MN Elector Votes For Edwards

In a state that Kerry won, an elector votes for Edwards.

From December 13th:

St. Paul (AP) An unknown Minnesota Democrat earned a footnote in history Monday by casting one of the state's 10 Electoral College votes for John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential running mate for John Kerry.

The Edwards vote apparently gives Minnesota its first ever "faithless elector," the dubious name for Electoral College members who snub the candidate who won the state's popular vote in the general election. Kerry, who beat President Bush in Minnesota but lost overall, wound up with nine of the state's electoral votes.

No one claimed credit for the Edwards vote. Several electors said they suspected that someone unconsciously mixed up the two Johns on the ticket rather than purposefully made a political statement.

"If it was meant to be a protest-type vote I would be upfront and say `This is how I voted,' said elector Frank Simon of Chaska. "It doesn't seem like anyone is coming forth to say that."

Added elector Michael Meuers of Bemidji: "I'm certainly glad that the Electoral College is not separated by one vote."

Bush is due to receive 286 electoral votes; Kerry was slated to get 252, but the Minnesota vote will reduce that total. It takes 270 votes to win the presidency.

Electors around the country meet in state capitols on the same day to vote. Democrats made up the Minnesota slate because Kerry received 1,445,014 votes to Bush's 1,346,695 in November.

Minnesota's voting began shortly after noon. Electors wrote their candidate's name on an 81/2-inch-by-11-inch sheet of paper and put the ballots in a pine box. Once all votes were in, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer and an aide pulled them out, counted them and announced the total. A tally sheet was sent to Congress, which announces nationwide totals in January.

It may never be known who cast the Edwards ballot. The ballots aren't signed.

In response to public information requests, Kiffmeyer's office released copies of the ballots along with other documents bearing signatures of the electors. Some electors had distinguishable handwriting, but comparisons involving the Edwards ballot were inconclusive.

Kiffmeyer, a Republican, said she was shocked to see the Edwards vote when counting the ballots. She also thought that it was in error.

"It just shows the humanness of the process," she said. Even if an elector came forward to admit a mistake, it is too late to change the ballot, she said.

Edwards received all 10 Minnesota votes for vice president in a separate round of balloting.

In October, The Associated Press contacted electors and was able to reach all 10 Republicans and eight of 10 on the Democratic roster. All said they would unequivocally support their party's candidate if called on to vote.

Minnesota is not among the states where political parties require their electors to take formal pledges that they'll back the ticket. In some states, electors can be hit with fines and misdemeanor charges for bucking the popular vote.

Faithless electors are rare. The last case resembling the Minnesota balloting was in 1988, when West Virginia elector voted for Democratic vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen over presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. She then backed Dukakis for vice president.

The Web site of the nonprofit Center for Voting and Democracy, which documents faithless electors in history, doesn't show any previous incidents involving Minnesota electors. Neither did several other Web sites on the topic.


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