At an event steeped in tradition, Minnesota's 10 Electoral College members cast votes for the president-elect.
Barack Obama swept Minnesota again Monday, winning all 10 of the state's electoral votes during a simple but dignified meeting of DFL Party electors in the State Capitol rotunda.
This year's gathering of the Electoral College featured none of the drama of the last two sessions, when snow-clogged roads caused two electors to arrive late (2000) and one elector incongruously cast a presidential ballot for vice presidential candidate John Edwards (2004).
Instead Monday, the electors sat at a long table and declared their choices for president and vice president, by voice, before signing the several forms required to register their votes with the federal and state governments.
"The results of the ballots show 10 votes for Barack Obama, of the state of Illinois," announced Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, no doubt relieved (given his recent duties as Senate recount chair) that none of the ballots had been either challenged or rejected.
About 70 people attended the half-hour ceremony.
Obama and running mate Joe Biden won Minnesota's popular vote, entitling them to all 10 of the state's electoral votes under the traditional winner-take-all system. When Minnesotans backed Obama on Nov. 4, they were actually choosing the Democratic slate of electors rather than the Republican slate pledged to John McCain, following a system laid down by the founders in the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
The results from Minnesota and other states will be forwarded to the Senate in Washington, where Vice President Dick Cheney will announce the winner early next month.
"It's very exciting to be part of this," said David Lee of Minneapolis, a first-time elector.
Since the 2000 election, in which George Bush collected more electoral votes despite narrowly losing the popular vote, calls for changes to the Electoral College have grown. One proposal, called the National Popular Vote plan, is to have states agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who won in their state.
Another idea is to assign electoral votes to the winner in each congressional district, with the statewide winner getting two at-large votes. Maine and Nebraska are the only two states to follow that system.
Lee said the National Popular Vote plan is a good idea as long as states that agree to it don't drop out later, when it may appear that the popular candidate locally isn't faring as well nationally.
Rodney Halvorson, an Electoral College alternate from St. Paul, wants to get rid of the whole thing. If he had been among the electors Monday, he said, he would have made a motion to ask Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish it.
"Al Gore was elected president [in 2000], and yet the Electoral College blocked the person rightfully elected," he said. "Our founding fathers made several mistakes, and one of them was the Electoral College."
Kevin Duchschere • 651-292-0164