Electoral College 'a high honor' -- Newton's Bill Shillito will cast ballots Monday
NEWTON N.C., Dec 14, 2012 (Hickory Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Bill Shillito, former chairman of the Catawba County Republican Party, will be in Raleigh on Monday to cast his ballots for president and vice president. It's because he was a winner in the November general election for president of the United States.
Shillito, of Newton, is one of 15 electors in the North Carolina Electoral College.
Across the nation, similar delegations will gather to confirm the popular vote in the November presidential election. When voters go to the polls, they actually choose electors who then select the next president and vice president from the nominees on the November ballot.
"I consider this a very high honor and privilege to participate in the electoral process," Shillito said.
Electors are not bound by the Constitution to cast their ballots according to their state's popular vote, but the states themselves stipulate the way electors will vote.
The North Carolina Electoral College will give all 15 votes to Republican Mitt Romney. Only two states, Maine and Nebraska, apportion their electoral votes. It's all or nothing in North Carolina and the rest of the nation.
Thus, Shillito -- who was chosen to be the elector from the 10th U.S. House District at the GOP state convention last spring -- will vote Republican on Monday. In 2008, North Carolina's electors voted Democratic.
Each party representing candidates on the ballot selects one elector from each of North Carolina's 13 House districts and two for the state's two members of the Senate, picked at large.
"When we present ourselves for nomination (to the Electoral College)," Shillito said, "we declare our support for a candidate. I declared for Romney." And he got the nod.
If an unaffiliated candidate qualifies for the presidential ballot, that candidate's organization chooses 15 electors to go with the Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians.
Even though Barack Obama won the popular election nationwide, he didn't carry North Carolina as he did four years ago, so Romney gets North Carolina's electoral votes. It won't matter because the nationwide electoral totals make Obama the clear winner.
Some critics want to scrap the Electoral College and choose the president and vice president strictly by popular vote, contending the current system is outmoded and old-fashioned.
"I have heard those issues, and I don't share those concerns," Shillito said. "We have a unique process our forefathers devised so small states wouldn't be consumed by the larger states. It's worked well with few controversies."
He said he will remain open-minded and is willing to consider proposals to change the process. "I will report on my impressions of the process and what I've learned," Shillito said, "but I'm going into this supporting the system" as it is now.
The route to the Electoral College is simple, but designed to ensure the democratic process works as intended.
The names of each set of electors are registered with the Secretary of State. Every state establishes criteria for candidates to be placed on the ballot. In North Carolina, after the general election, the State Board of Elections certifies the presidential and vice presidential results to the secretary of state. The secretary then gives the names of the winning electors to the governor. The governor certifies the names to the Archivist of the United States and each elector.
The governor instructs the electors to meet at the old Hall of the House of Representatives in Raleigh at noon on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the election.
The Secretary of State arranges and conducts the meeting. Elaine Marshall will convene the meeting and oversee two electoral votes -- one for president and one for vice president. It is a formality, but each vote must be attested and duly recorded. It's how the popular vote is made official.
There is no federal elections board. Certification is accomplished by the Electoral College.
Electors serve one term in North Carolina. They're paid $44 a day and 17 cents per mile for the trip to Raleigh, so it isn't about the money, but the responsibility.
"I am excited," Shillito said. "I'm very proud to be able to do this."
The Electoral College Roll:
At Large: Felice Pete, Raleigh
At Large: Garry Terry, Ahoskie
1st District: James Proctor, Whitakers
2nd District: Robert Levy, Southern Pines
3rd District: Ashley Woolard, Washington
4th District: Michael Esser, Chapel Hill
5th District: Charles Barrett, Advance
6th District: David Ruden, High Point
7th District: Barbara Hines, Elizabethtown
8th District: Don Abernathy, Albemarle
9th District: Mary Jo Shepherd, Charlotte
10th District: William Shillito, Newton
11th District: Dodie Allen, Bryson City
12th District: Paul Penney, Concord
13th District: James Art Pope, Raleigh
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