Minnesota's 10 electors gathered in the state House Chambers on Monday and one by one announced their votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
State Patrol troopers and each elector's single allotted guest looked on as the Electoral College cast ballots for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a small, socially distant ceremony with heightened security.
"Today's events will hasten a transition of power in our country," Secretary of State Steve Simon said as he kicked off the voting process. "This meeting of the Electoral College in Minnesota, and in all other U.S. jurisdictions, will be the latest verification and validation that democracy worked in America in 2020."
The votes that formally determine the next president typically draw a bigger audience and little concern for disturbances.
This year looked very different during the coronavirus pandemic and as President Donald Trump continues to challenge the election outcome.
Biden received 306 Electoral College votes in the November election, while Trump had 232.
In Minnesota, each of the 10 electors kept their vow to select Biden, who defeated Trump by about 7 percentage points in the state.
Simon said leading up to the Electoral College vote there was a chance people who disagree with the election results could try to interfere.
In Michigan, state officials closed the Capitol and legislative offices Monday amid concerns about threats against Electoral College members.
State Patrol officers were stationed around the Minnesota Capitol, and flanked electors as they left the House chambers.
Members of the state DFL and Republican parties selected the electors at their state and congressional conventions this year. The presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in Minnesota gets all 10 of the state's Electoral College votes, which are equal to the number of Congressional members representing the state.
For Apple Valley resident Roxanne Mindeman and others, being a part of the electoral process had been a long-held dream.
Mindeman said she thought about being an elector for 15 or 20 years before she was chosen this time.
Her husband watched her vote from the House gallery seats and she said her 91-year-old mother, son and friends tuned into the Secretary of State's YouTube livestream to see her participate.
"This election feels particularly important, because the Electoral College matters this time more than it generally ever does," Mindeman said after selecting Biden and Harris.
Congress will tally the Electoral College votes Jan. 6. Some Republican House members could make a last-ditch attempt to change the results by challenging the count on the U.S. House floor, an effort that is widely expected to fail.
Courts across the country have rejected lawsuits from Trump and some of his supporters, who have asserted without evidence that there had been massive voter fraud.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an effort to overturn the election results in four key swing states that backed Biden.
Simon has repeatedly repudiated Trump's claims of massive voter fraud. Wearing a "Vote" face mask Monday, Simon stressed to the electors and onlookers that the election outcome should be accepted and there needs to be a peaceful transition of power to the next administration.
"In too much of the world a change in government comes only through force," he said. "We Americans don't do that … Whether we agree or disagree with the outcome the laws have produced, we respect and honor that outcome."
Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044