William Smith, 94, of Hartford, and his fellow Connecticut Presidential Electors convened Monday in the Senate chamber of the State Capitol to cast their ballots for President and Vice President of the United States of America. Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant
Presidential Elector William Smith, 94, of Hartford, casts his ballot for Joe Biden in the Connecticut Senate. Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant

Connecticut cast its seven Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden on Monday, normally a perfunctory postscript to a presidential election. The state’s GOP chairman was ready to move on, even if President Donald J. Trump was not.

“This is the process that has played out,” said J.R. Romano, chair of the state Republican Party. Romano accepted the result but refused to say if Trump should, too. “All that matters procedurally is that the Electoral College voted today. That’s all that really matters.”

Trump remained consistent, refusing to concede defeat. His only references to the election on Twitter involved allegations of fraud rejected by the courts and election officials, many of his own party.

William Smith, 94, of Hartford cast one of the seven votes in Connecticut in a solemn and socially distanced ceremony in the Connecticut Senate. He walked with a cane and wore a mask with a one-word message, “VOTE.”

He worried about the president’s inability to accept the result of what he called an “overwhelming win.”

Biden beat Trump by 7 million votes in the popular vote. He is the certified winner in 25 states and the District of Columbia, giving him 306 electoral votes —36 more than the 270 necessary for election.

“Why would the president still be holding out? It doesn’t make sense,” Smith said. “I honestly and truly pray for that man, and I would hope that he would get help after this is all over. I think there’s something wrong with him.”

John Kalamarides, an elector and former Democratic town chair in Wilton, said, It’s very disturbing to see what’s going on.”

The business at hand for the electors included signing their ballots, then dropping them one by one into a ballot box believed to be made from the historic Charter Oak.

Nick Balletto, an elector and the former Democratic chair, then counted the ballots and announced Biden the winner. The process was repeated for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Each elector was then asked to sign the certificates of appointment of the presidential electors and the certificates of ascertainment of votes. They were sealed by wax and stamped by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

On the table with the wax was a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Connecticut’s Presidential Electors convene on Monday in the socially distanced Connecticut Senate. Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant

One copy of each will be forwarded by certified mail to Vice President Mike Pence. Two copies are delivered to Merrill, two copies forwarded by certified mail to the national archivist at the National Archives and Record Administration in Washington, and one copy will be delivered to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.

In deference to COVID-19 safety guidelines, instead of sitting at a table together in the middle of the Senate chamber, the electors sat at senators’ desks, with four seats apart in most cases. All seven wore face masks. One elector, Myrna Watanabe, also wore a face shield.

Merrill, her deputy and a few staff were in the chamber. Democratic State Chair Nancy DiNardo, wearing a Biden face mask, stood in the back of the room with staff from the Senate Democrats and the governor’s office. 

Gov. Ned Lamont did not attend, opting instead for a different ceremony blocks away outside Hartford Hospital: the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to the first recipients in Connecticut. 

He saw the confluence of the vaccine’s arrival and the Electoral College vote as milestones, evidence of a nation ready to leave behind a pandemic and an election in which the president’s management of the pandemic was a key issue.

“I think we’re moving on, aren’t we? I think the Electoral College reminds us of that. I think the vaccine reminds us of that,” said Lamont, a Democrat. “Look around. I think we’re moving on, and that’ll be formalized in five weeks.”

This story included pool reporting by Susan Haigh of the Associated Press. Due to COVID, the press otherwise was not permitted in the Senate.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

Leave a comment