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Voters' Answers: 10. Who Really Elects The Prez?

Question #10: Finally, who are you really voting for when you vote for Barack Obama or John McCain?

Why, electors, of course. And who are these constitutionally-mandated, virtually anonymous souls who actually get to elect the president? Who are these people you actually voted for yesterday even if their names didn't appear on the ballot?

Here they are: First, Virginia. In Virginia, you elected artists, teachers, politicians, retirees. People such as Janet Carver of Springfield, a retiree and Democratic activist, and Rollie Winter of Leesburg, a retired information technologist, and Marian Van Landingham of Alexandria, a retired state legislator who founded the Torpedo Factory Arts Center.

In Maryland, the elector candidates--10 from each party--included state legislators, labor leaders, and some prominent names. The Democrats chosen yesterday includes Bobby Fouche, a labor leader from Washington County; state delegates Susan Lee from Montgomery County and Liz Bobo from Howard County; and state Sen. Nathaniel Exum of Prince George's County, who is under investigation by the FBI, which is probing his advocacy on behalf of a Prince George's automobile repair shop that sought to resume state car inspections four years after its license to do so was revoked because of fraudulent practices.

In the District, the three electors selected yesterday are names that will be familiar to those who've followed D.C. politics for many years: D.C. Council chairman Vincent Gray, Jerry Cooper, and Marilyn Tyler Brown, a longtime schools administrator under several superintendents in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Brown was on the Hillary Clinton steering committee in the District. Cooper, a longtime political activist and campaign strategist in the city, is the man who brought the lottery to the District three decades ago.

On December 15, the electors will meet in their state capitals and sign the certificate of vote, which will attest to the results of Election Day's vote, and they will transmit that certificate to the president of the U.S. Senate, Mr. Dick Cheney. Then, in January, at a special joint session of Congress, the envelopes will be opened and the results tallied. At that point, President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden will officially gain the titles that we all informally gave them last night.

By Marc Fisher |  November 5, 2008; 3:36 PM ET
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