Commentary: Electoral College makes it official

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Meeting at noon Monday in North Carolina's historic Capitol, the state's presidential electors made history. In accord with the quaint and quirky mechanisms of the Electoral College, they ratified the state's – and the nation's – choice of Barack Obama as president.

Even Obama's political opponents acknowledge the moment's meaning for American democracy. Perhaps nowhere in the land was that meaning more evident than on Capitol Square in Raleigh.

The stone Capitol completed there in 1840 has witnessed an arc of history – slavery, the Confederacy, war, prosperity and hard times, civil rights lost and won – and now the election of the United States' first African-American president. Monday's vote took place in the same handsome old House chamber where North Carolina's secession from the union was declared on May 20,1861.

What a long and welcome way we've come. If only so many good people, black and white, could have lived to see the day.

The 15 Obama (and Joe Biden) electors cast their ballots for the two Democrats, as did electors in the other 27 states (plus the District of Columbia and one district in a divided Nebraska) the ticket carried. The full presidential election tally is expected to be 365 for Obama-Biden and 173 for Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The Obama victory at the polls Nov. 4, while clear-cut nationwide, was a close-run thing in North Carolina. Out of 4.3 million votes cast, Obama won by a mere 14,177. Yet under our electoral system that was enough to deliver to him the state's 15 electoral votes.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.