Meet Washington, DC’s all-female Electoral College slate – Al Jazeera English

10December 2020

Every four years, political celebrations from each United States state, along with the District of Columbia, select slates of electors to officially elect the next president and vice president in the Electoral College. These functions are generally given to those with deep political connections.

However, this year, Washington, DC's Democratic Party diverted from this trend and picked a group that is less representative of celebration stalwarts and rather reflects the community-at-large. Those electors will fulfill on December 14, when the Electoral College is set to officially cast its ballots across the country.

The Electoral College has a total of 538 electors. The winning presidential and vice-presidential prospects require 270 votes in the Electoral College to win the election. Democrat Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes, consisting of the three from Washington, DC, to Republican President Donald Trump's 232.

2 of DC's electors are front-line workers amidst the continuous COVID-19 pandemic and the 3rd has invested years working on DC's defend statehood.

Meedie Bardonille is a registered nurse and the chair of the District of Columbia Board of Nursing. Jacqueline Echavarria is a native Washingtonian, a veteran, and a Safeway grocery store cashier. Barbara Helmick is the director of programs at DC Vote, a non-profit organisation devoted to providing DC citizens with complete representation through statehood.

To celebrate the 100 years that have passed since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, approving ladies the right to vote, all 3 of the District's electors are ladies.

“They were really deliberate with making sure that they had 3 females agents to represent the District,” said Bardonille.

Meedie Bardonille

Meedie Bardonille, a DC elector in the 2020 presidential election [Courtesy of Meedie Bardonille] Bardonille said the opportunity to be an elector for the District brings excellent significance. As a Howard University graduate and happy member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she shares a connection with the first Black vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, a Howard graduate herself.

“I represent those that have actually been undervalued and underrepresented. I stand happily as an American resident who will cast the elect the very first African American lady and graduate of my alma mater, Howard University, to the highest workplace in our country.

“It is recognition that we split not simply the glass ceiling, but the concrete walls developed to keep us out, and have finally taken our location at the political table,” Bardonille added.

As Bardonille prepares to cast her vote on December 14, she stated she will be honouring the legacy of the ladies who made it possible.

“It implies that I am participating in a system that was not created for me. It is a special and intricate system, with a history filled of compromise and injustice, but today I am here … unbought, unbossed, unbothered as an African American woman, nurse, mom of a Black boy fulfilling the imagine those that led the way prior to me.”

Bardonille hopes her vote can fill the space for those who feel disenfranchised or ignored by the political system.

“Casting the main vote of our next President and Vice President, I am getting into ‘good trouble' as this walk for justice, equity and representation continues,” Bardonille stated, utilizing a famous phrase from the late United States Representative and civil rights activist, John Lewis.

Bardonille does not take her responsibility to represent the District's approximately 700,000 residents lightly.

“The process of being chosen as an elector has actually been humbling and gotten with a terrific inner voice and honour.”

Jacqueline Echavarria

Jacqueline Echavarria, a DC elector in the 2020 governmental election [Courtesy of Jacqueline Echavarria] Jacqueline Echavarria is a lifelong resident of Washington, DC. A mom, granny, and veteran, Echavarria is also a front-line worker in the ongoing pandemic. She is a cashier at a Safeway supermarket and an active member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, a labour union representing workers from a range of industries.

Echavarria has actually committed much of her life to offering, and she believes this helped her land the role of an elector.

“Volunteering is most likely the process in which I ended up being an electoral delegate due to the fact that the [Democratic National Committee] reached out to Local 400 and my union rep. Lynette Floyd suggested me since I was a volunteer with the Obama administration at the correspondence office.”

Echavarria stated the chance to represent her home town brings a special significance, especially after experiencing what it is like to be away from her home.

“I am a native Washingtonian, and remaining in the Army and being wed to an Army man, I've travelled a number of locations. And think me, there's no location like house. And getting to represent Washington, DC as a native Washingtonian resembles a reward,” Echavarria stated.

After losing her mother this year, Echavarria wishes to honour her with the vote she will cast next week.

“My mom not just voted, however she also offered to work at the polls when she could. So casting my vote on the 14th would be like her last vote.”

As Echavarria looks ahead to this historical moment in her life, she has a crucial message for average citizens who do not think they can make a difference in their own neighborhood:

“I believe that everybody can do something. Volunteering is, like I stated, probably what brought me here, and I take pleasure in offering. So I believe if everyone simply gave a little bit of their time, since I don't have any cash, however I do have simply a little bit of time. And I'm doing volunteering, and it's so rewarding. So everyone can do something.”

Barbara Helmick

Barbara Helmick, a DC elector in the 2020 presidential election [Courtesy of Barbara Helmick]
Barbara Helmick has actually been a Washington, DC resident for more than 40 years and has actually become one of the strongest voices for DC statehood. In addition, Helmick will be the very first lesbian elector for DC.

“While I'm enjoyed represent women and represent the statehood motion, [I] likewise recognize that it is essential that all our neighborhoods get recognized,” Helmick said.

Constitutionally, the District of Columbia was produced not as a state, however as the “Seat of Government of the United States” under congressional control. DC locals pay federal taxes however do not have voting representation in Congress, something “statehood” supporters keep in mind when pushing for DC to end up being a full-fledged state.

Until 1964, the District of Columbia was not part of the Electoral College. A Constitutional change assigned three electors to DC, equal to the variety of members of Congress it would have if it were a state.

While Helmick is honoured to have been picked as an elector, she recognises there is a great deal of important work to be done.

“I will state, it's almost a little paradoxical. It's a little bittersweet. Because this is the only ballot right that we have in DC. We do not have ballot rights in Congress. We do not have self-representation.”

Helmick said she has blended emotions about being chosen.

“I'm delighted, I'm honoured. I will be a faithful elector. However it is with a note of anger at the total injustice of the situation of those of us who live and raise our households and work and vote– the little ballot that we get to do here in DC.”


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