Alaska's three electors vote for McCain-Palin

Electoral College voters cast ballots in Juneau

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alaska's three Electoral College voters cast their ballots Monday for U.S. Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, marking the first time an Alaska electorate voted for a governor from this state.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Votes supporting the failed Republican ticket came from: Roy J. Burkhart, 70, of Willow; Hope Nelson, 67, of Anchorage; and Robert Brodie, 57, of Kodiak.

Inside Juneau's convention center and with Palin sitting in the front row, the three voters signed ballots that were later sealed.

All three later confirmed they supported Palin and McCain, who collected 60 percent of the state's popular vote in November.

But by the time the state's polls were closing, McCain and Palin had conceded the race to the Democrats, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The state's three electoral votes reflect the number of members of Alaska's congressional delegation, and provide for checks and balances, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said.

"If presidents were elected by national popular vote, the collective vote of several hundred thousand Alaskans would be drowned out by voices from tens of millions in larger cities," Parnell said.

"The candidates would focus solely, or almost exclusively, on the larger cities," he said. "The national issue would reflect them rather than being representative of a larger cross section of our country."

Brodie agreed with Parnell, who oversees the state's elections division.

"In grammar school and high school, you hear about the Electoral College and it's kind of a vague concept," Brodie said.

"What it boils down to is, it's 100 million people who voted, but it's the 538 people voting today that really counts," he said.

Brodie said he hadn't lost sight of the significance and was thankful for Palin's attendance.

Palin thanked each voter individually after they signed the ballots, but did not address the audience attending the signing.

Afterward, however, she made time for the voters, other supporters and area students who watched.

"It's humbling," Brodie said. "It may seem a bit anticlimactic, but it's still pretty sobering."

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