Virginia Leads the Way : Electors Reflect as They Cast Votes For Biden

By Brian Carlton

December 15, 2020

Electors cast their votes in a short and simple way, giving all 13 to Joe Biden.

RICHMOND-There were no interruptions. No protests, chants or criticisms. In fact, one might say it was a fairly uneventful session as Virginia’s 13 electors cast their votes for Joe Biden. But then again, that was the point. 

“Every four years, this is our responsibility in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam told the group of assembled electors on Monday. “The voters in Virginia have spoken and so I wanted to thank the electors for being here. For braving the weather and doing your duty.” 

Several echoed the theme of Virginia leading the way before the vote. Speaking to the group, elector and Manassas resident Ellen J. Scott gave a history lesson. She pointed out that after the Civil War, the healing started in Virginia. 

“Though not perfect and fraught with broken promises, there emerged a people determined to hold America to its espoused values and its Constitutional declaration that all men are created equal,” Scott said. 

She pointed out that in 1990, Virginia elected Douglas Wilder as its 66th governor. The grandson of enslaved people, Wilder was the nation’s first Black governor. In 2008, she reminded everyone, Virginia voted for the Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in 44 years. 

“Today, we find our nation facing a divisiveness, the enormity of which makes us shudder,” Scott said. “Once again, we in Virginia are at the forefront of the healing.” 

RELATED: Who Chooses Virginia’s Electors? Well, That Depends.

Virginia Code Sets the Guidelines

For all the drama leading up, the actual event was over in a matter of minutes. Electors’ heard their names and in turn, each said who they voted for. The Virginia Code makes it fairly simple. It requires electors to support the winner of the popular vote. Each political party chooses 13 electors in Virginia. The party whose candidate wins the state’s popular vote then sends its 13 people to Richmond. After that, the Code is pretty specific about what happens. 

“Electors selected by the state convention of any political party shall be required to vote for the nominees of the national convention to which the state convention elects delegates,” Section 24.2-203 of the Code says. 

In other words, the electors vote for their party’s candidate. As Joe Biden was the Democratic nominee and won Virginia’s popular vote, he received all 13 ballots cast Monday in the state. That’s no longer much of a surprise. Republicans last won a statewide race in 2009. 

Reflecting on the divisiveness of the election, Scott called it a time to come together. 

“Let us never forget that we are heeding the words of Lincoln, to bind up the nation’s wounds,” Scott said. “And we are following the admonition of Dr. King, [as] everyone must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness.” 

Biden Says Thanks

Across the nation, Biden received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. During an evening speech, the president-elect called it a time for healing, a time to move forward.

“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago,” Biden said. “And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame.”

He promised to work “just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did.”

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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