Nevada’s six electors cast ballots for Obama

CARSON CITY – It was a landslide.

President Barack Obama officially became Nevada’s choice Monday when the state’s six presidential electors publicly selected him.

Randy Soltero, a legislative lobbyist from Las Vegas and an elector, said he never questioned voting for Obama. He said a Pennsylvania woman had sent him and others a “nice note” asking them to choose Republican Mitt Romney.

Secretary of State Ross Miller, who presided over the meeting of the Electoral College, said Nevada law requires electors to pick the candidate who won the November election. No Nevada elector has ever chosen a losing candidate or someone not on the ballot, though that has infrequently happened elsewhere.

If that occurred here, Miller said, he would head to District Court to ask a judge to toss out that vote.

Miller opened the meeting by discussing how the U.S. Constitution provides for electors – now 538 of them – to pick the president and vice president. He said the six electors were the only people in Nevada to cast a “direct” ballot for president.

Electors are chosen by the political parties, and only those representing the candidate who won the popular vote can participate in the Electoral College vote, conducted Dec. 17 in each state after the presidential election. Obama won the Nevada popular vote by nearly 68,000 votes, winning 52.36 percent. Romney garnered 45.68 percent.

After the meeting, Miller said he opposes the National Popular Vote effort, which would require electors in all states to pick the candidate who received the most popular votes nationally. The effort would prevent situations such as in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost because George W. Bush won the majority of electors.

If the popular vote plan were in effect, the secretary of state said, it would diminish Nevada’s role in presidential elections. Now, Nevada is hotly contested as a battleground state, sought by both major parties. Under a National Popular Vote scenario, Miller said there would not be as much of a reason for presidential candidates to visit because the state only has six electoral votes.

Electors are invited to attend the Jan. 21 presidential inauguration but must pay their own way.

Elector Rose McKinney-James, a former lieutenant governor candidate, said she will attend, in part because she has a lot of frequent flier miles to burn. Soltero also will attend.

Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, won’t, she said, because she needs to keep all available time off for the legislative session.

Other electors were Samuel Lieberman, the former chairman of the state Democrat Party, John Ponticello and Marty Ann McGarry.

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