Alaska's electors cast their ballots in Anchorage

Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- There were no surprises as Alaska's three electors gathered Monday to cast their ballots for President-elect George W. Bush and Vice President-elect Dick Cheney.

Republican electors Bill Allen, Lucy Groh and Susan Fischetti sat on the stage of the Wilda Marston Theater at the Z.J. Loussac Library and marked off their ballots as cameras clicked and nearly 200 people looked on.

The state's three electors were pledged to vote for the candidates that won Alaska's popular vote, so the ballots they filled out had just two names, those of Bush and Cheney.

When state Division of Elections Director Janet Kowalski announced that Bush and Cheney had won Alaska's electoral votes the audience erupted in applause. Many of those in the audience were Republican politicians and party loyalists.

The whole process lasted about 15 minutes.

Afterward, politicians, students and those who came to witness history gathered for cookies and coffee and to discuss the system that allowed the loser of the popular vote to claim the presidency for the first time in 112 years.

Alaska's electoral college vote usually is a low-key, informal affair. In 1996, the vote took place before a high school history class in Juneau.

But state elections officials say they decided to invite people to watch because of the enormous interest in the role of the electoral college in this presidential election.

''We thought it was a great opportunity to encourage public involvement,'' Kowalski said.

Sen. Ted Stevens was among those to witness the historic vote.

Members of the House and Senate and the Bush campaign decided the senior elected official in each state should meet with the electors to make sure the system worked properly, Stevens said. Some electors in other states who had pledged to vote for Bush said they received e-mail and phone calls urging them to vote for Gore.

Stevens met with Allen, Groh and Fischetti Sunday evening, ''just to let them know we're interested in what they're doing and we're thankful for what we're doing,'' he said.

Members of Dimond High School's advanced placement government class were among those to witness the vote and met afterward for a discussion on the electoral college.

''Even though we knew what was going to happen, there was some anticipation before the vote was announced. It was kind of neat to be able to see all that,'' said senior Diane Adrian.



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