Illinois’ 20 members of the Electoral College played their part Monday in getting former Vice President Joe Biden to the White House, despite President Donald Trump’s continued attempts to overturn last month’s election results.
In some ways, it was typical of the perfunctory, formal ceremony that takes place every four years.
But state Sen. Omar Aquino, the elector for the 4th Congressional District, said he and the other electors had to take a rapid coronavirus test Monday morning; they also wore masks and sat at socially distanced desks in the state Senate chambers in Springfield.
Aquino also said because of Trump’s unsustained accusations of election malfeasance or fraud, the electors were told to be on alert and to refrain from posting anything on social media in advance of their meeting.
“The rhetoric from specifically the president, you know, things have gotten a little crazy out there,” he said. “We have a country that is so divided, and a leader in the president who is just not conceding this election when it’s obvious that the people went out and voted against him and for Joe Biden, that it’s getting to a situation that it’s a dangerous one.”
Elector Vera Davis has been part of the Electoral College each presidential cycle since 2000, but she said this time was particularly significant because she was able to cast an official ballot for the first woman and the first woman of color to become vice president: Her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister Kamala Harris.
“I just think in terms of how young ladies – Black or White – they know that that’s an area that they can dream of and actually make their dream come true. Little girls now, they can look at her – especially Black African Americans, and say, ‘She looks like me. I can do that,’” Davis said.
Sprinfield’s Sheila Stocks-Smith, representing the 18th Congressional District, said she was honored to be a part of it.
While Illinois’ electors are technically not bound to stick to the popular election results — in which Biden won 57.5% to Trump’s 40.6% — she can’t imagine a scenario in which she’d not do so.
Stocks-Smith said it’s unfortunate that Biden will enter the White House with Trump’s tantrums dragging him down — and the country as well.
But the 2020 election cycle, as with the ’16 race four years prior, has prompted discussions about moving to a popular vote system.
In 2008, Illinois passed a law to sign onto a national popular vote compact, but without more states doing the same it’s merely a statute on paper.
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