Highlander Participates In Electoral College

As the 2020 election moves to its final stage with the Congressional certification of the Electoral College votes, I spoke with a local who took part in the actual process.

“I’m Susan Swecker, I’m a proud native of Highland County and still live in Monterey, Virginia – I grew up in the Blue Grass Valley. I have served now for over five and a half years, as Chairman of the Democratic Party in Virginia, so I also reside additionally in Richmond, and have, still, family and lots of ties to Highland County.”

“I had been present in the past, as a guest. It’s traditionally been held in either the House or Senate chambers at the State Capitol. But it wasn’t even anything that I had given any thought to before. It is a high honor and something after four years ago, watching and wanting to be a part of turning the page to a new chapter, that I became very interested in being elected to one of the positions.”

I asked how she became an Elector.

“Each state does it differently, and actually I think the political parties in states do them differently, because each political party selects Electors prior to the election, because you need to be prepared based on then who wins your state. The Democratic Party of Virginia, there are 13, one per each congressional district, and two that are at large, chose them at our congressional district level conventions, and then state convention.”

“Normally, overall, they are positions that are rewarded to party leaders, party activists, true party believers, as a reward, but also, even more importantly these days, to guarantee that something doesn’t go askew and that you have a faithless Elector. We have to get approval from our national party on the election of how we do it. So there are little nuances to how we do it, we have a pretty safe and secure process here in Virginia, where even if you are elected, you sign a form that says that you will vote for the Democrat that carries your Commonwealth, and there’s been instances in a few other states, over the years, but that has not been an issue here with us.

She described how the process worked.

“Normally, it would be bristling with energy and excitement which it still was, but we were limited by the number of people that you could have in the room, and even the press – it was livestreamed. I looked back at the agenda and the actual script from it and we had numerous calls because this is actually not a party function – this is a government function.”

“So, the Department of Elections, that run the elections and set the rules, worked with us to make sure that we had what we needed to do this properly, and to get all the right paperwork to Congress. You sign a lot of documents and they get forwarded up to D.C. And the chairman, and the members of the electoral board were there to open it up and bring us into the meeting, and the governor came and made remarks, which is pretty traditional. And then there’s a whole process where you elect your officers, and I was honored to be President of the Electoral College.”

“But it was a very formal process, it took probably like an hour and a half to go through. I asked, and each person has to stand up and say – they’re sworn in first as an elector, then they affirm that they cast their vote for Joe Biden for President of the United States. So you go through everybody on that, then you go through everybody – I think we did it the opposite way, but Kamala Harris.”

“There’s a pretty strict script that we followed, the basic infrastructure, and the template of the Virginia Electoral College is one that has been used for decades, if not longer.”

She did have one slight regret.

“So while I was really happy to do it. I’ve also felt a little left out because everybody else was watching all the other states come through, and watching people that I knew that were other state party chairs, or members of the DNC, or activists all across the country that were passing votes or speaking. So I felt a little sense of, like, missing out, because otherwise I would have been at home watching it on TV. But nonetheless, it was a great honor and a historic occasion for us, and one that went seamlessly, and will always mean something to me.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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