A Clark County woman is a member of the select group — just 538 citizens — who will formally elect the 46th president of the United States next month.
Jackie Lane, a Battle Ground resident and active member in the Democratic party, is a member of 2020’s Electoral College. She’ll join 11 other electors from Washington in casting a vote for Democrat and President-elect Joe Biden on Dec. 14.
Is the process out of step with her personal politics? A little. Is it exciting regardless? Extremely.
“It’s pretty funny, because I would just as soon see the Electoral College go away, but here we are,” Lane said. “It’s a big piece of history.”
Lane was elected at the party’s state committee meeting back in June. She threw her hat into the ring and made her pitch to the committee members virtually. The selection process would usually take place in person, but as with so many other political traditions this year, COVID-19 threw a wrench into the works, she said.
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman will certify the election results no later than Dec. 3. Then the group of electors — one from each of the state’s 10 congressional districts, plus two at-large — will make the trek to Olympia to officially cast their votes.
“In the past, it’s been to the Secretary of State’s office. They’ll probably find a larger space so we can all socially distance,” Lane said.
Lane served as a precinct committee officer for the Democratic party in the 18th Legislative District for more than a decade, and she’s currently the action and advocacy chair in the county’s chapter of the League of Women Voters. She also sought a seat on Clark County’s Charter Review Committee on Nov. 3, though the seat ultimately went to county Parks Advisory Board Member Kelsey Potter.
In 2016, four Washington electors went rogue.
Instead of casting their vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, three electors voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell. One voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, an American Indian elder. The elector from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, Vancouver resident and then-18-year-old Ryleigh Ivey, was not among the dissenting votes.
However, the impact of the faithless elector shakeup can still be felt in 2020, Lane said. In fact, it was a key part of her pitch to the state party committee in June.
“You promise to be faithful, because we had that problem four years ago,” Lane said. “The laws have changed, so the ability for drama is a little lower.”
As of the 2016 election, state law at the time mandated a $1,000 fine for each of the faithless electors. In 2019, the Washington legislature passed a new law that essentially voids and replaces the votes of faithless electors — when the new batch heads to Olympia next month, they’ll have to cast their votes for Biden. If they refuse, they’ll be replaced by alternates who do.
Lane said she’s a little worried about representing Southwest Washington in the Electoral College during the current political climate. President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the election — weeks after Biden passed the benchmark of 270 electors needed to win the seat — has only made that climate more tense.
But here, at least, she’s confident that the wheels of democracy will keep spinning.
“It’s a little bit worrisome, because there’s some crazy people out there. But we’ll be fine,” Lane said. “In Washington, we’re going to certify our election on schedule.”