Electoral College Elects OBama President

January 9, 2009

No Surprises in Electoral Tally

WASHINGTON — The suspense was nonexistent, but still the House and the Senate gathered in a joint meeting on Thursday afternoon to go through one of the last formalities of the presidential election: counting the electoral votes.

Vice President Dick Cheney, performing one of his last duties as president of the Senate, opened the event by sonorously intoning that the session was being conducted pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the United States. After the ballots arrived, carried in a wooden box, two appointed tellers read the results from each state.

While there have been oddities in the past that shifted the total, the final result this time was the same as derived in the public voting on Nov. 4: 365 electoral votes for the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and 173 for John McCain of Arizona and Sarah Palin of Alaska, their Republican opponents. With the results formally entered in the journals of the House and the Senate, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden are now cleared to be sworn in on Jan. 20.

The finality of the announcement by Mr. Cheney drew a rousing round of applause from assembled lawmakers and their guests, including 26 young people active in politics who were invited by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California.

Still, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, used the moment to renew his call for a constitutional amendment eliminating the Electoral College and for electing the president strictly by popular vote.

“It’s only been a few times in our history, most recently in the 2000 election, that the candidate who lost the popular vote won the Electoral College and became president, but that shouldn’t be allowed to happen again,” Mr. Nelson said.

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