Nevada’s presidential electors to vote Nov. 18 for Bush
CARSON CITY, Nev. – A handful of renegades in the Electoral College could swing the presidential election one way or the other this year – but you won’t find any ”faithless electors” from Nevada.
The four Nevada Republicans who will cast their ballots Dec. 18 are required by state law to follow the wishes of the state’s voters, who on Nov. 7 favored GOP candidate George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore by a 50-47 margin. Had Gore won, a group of four Democratic electors would be under the requirement to cast their votes for the vice president.
But even if the state gave presidential electors the option of being ”faithless” to the voters, the electors meeting here next month – all Republicans to the bone – say they wouldn’t even consider it.
National Democrats who suggested the vote-switching have included Pennsylvania state Rep. T.J. Rooney, who said Bush-pledged electors should ”do what’s right for the country” and vote for Gore.
”I assure you I will do the right thing,” said Nevada elector Bill Raggio. ”I absolutely will cast my vote for Bush.”
Raggio, 74, the state Senate majority leader and a veteran of many political campaigns over the years, is a presidential elector for the first time.
Other electors chosen at the Republican Party’s state convention to be electors – without any reimbursement for travel or expenses – include former Assemblywoman Jane Ham of Las Vegas, and longtime GOP activists Trudy Hushbeck of Carson City and Peggy Wutke of Las Vegas.
They all echo Raggio’s views on any vote-switching.
”I wouldn’t consider it,” said Wutke, 85. ”That’s asking me an impossible question. Absolutely not.”
Wutke was picked as a GOP elector four years ago, but Democrats cast the state’s four votes because Bill Clinton won the state – barely. She’s never held an elective state office, but within the GOP has been state party vice chairwoman and a national convention delegate.
Ham, 80, a first-time elector, said the suggestion from some Democrats that electors change their votes just shows her ”there’s no level low enough to which Democrats won’t sink.”
Even if Nevada had a law that allows switching – 24 other states do while the rest don’t – Ham added, ”I wouldn’t consider it. It would be unethical. I’d have to be completely lacking in integrity.”
Hushbeck, another first-time elector, is filling in for elector Edwina Prior of Reno who will be out of the state when electoral votes are cast in the old state Supreme Court chambers in the Nevada Capitol.
Hushbeck, who lists her age as ”over 70,” said she wouldn’t consider a switch to Gore because Bush ”carried this state, and he carried my county by 20,000 votes. There’s just no way I’d even consider such a thing.”
Hushbeck was a Bush alternate at this year’s national GOP convention and is the northern Nevada director for the state GOP. She also was a California delegate and an alternate to national conventions in 1984 and 1988.
The commitment by the electors to cast their ballots as the state’s voters mirrors a pattern kept by every Nevada elector since statehood – except one, A.S. Peck of Aurora, who died before he could vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
Elsewhere in the nation, there have been several renegades over two centuries who broke from their states and voted the way they wanted. George Wallace got a vote that way in 1968, Ronald Reagan picked up one in 1976 and even Lloyd Bentsen got one that should have gone to his running mate, Michael Dukakis, in 1988.
None of the defections changed the course of an election, and no elector has been prosecuted criminally.
The nationwide electoral vote count is incomplete because of close races in several states, especially Florida. Unofficial figures indicate Gore is leading in the popular vote, but Bush is sure to get the presidency if he winds up with Florida’s electoral votes.
The Electoral College was established in the U.S. Constitution as a way of removing the presidential election from the immediate passions of the moment, setting the vote ”on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.”
Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of seats it holds in the Senate and House of Representatives.
By law, each elector gets a ballot for president and a separate one for vice president. Once they vote, the electors sign a document showing their choices. Under the watchful eyes of the secretary of state’s office, that documents are sent to the president of the U.S. Senate, where the results are made official.
On the Net:
About ”faithless electors”:
About the Electoral College: http://www.nara.gov/fedreg/elctcoll
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