Mass. Electoral College members vote for Obama, Biden in State House ceremony

Now it’s official.

While President Obama handily carried Massachusetts on Election Day, he formally received the state’s 11 electoral votes on Monday afternoon at the State House.

During a pomp-filled ceremony in the chamber of the House of Representatives, the 11 members of the state’s Electoral College unanimously cast their votes for Obama as president and for Joe Biden as his number two.

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In brief remarks, Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat who stumped for the president on the campaign trail, administered the oath of office to the electors and hailed the results in November.

“The reelection of Barack Obama and Joe Biden as president and vice president of the United States is a thing, in my mind, of great majesty and beauty and a great thing for America,” Patrick said.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who oversees elections in the state, praised Massachusetts for its high voter turnout and for what he said was the state’s commitment to ensuring ballot access for all citizens, including immigrants from countries where voting rights are not always guaranteed.

“You represent them,” Galvin told the electors before the vote.

The electors, who are chosen by the respective state party committees, entered the chamber dressed in formal attire to a standing ovation.

Galvin said afterward that each party committee chooses a slate of people to sit on the Electoral College, and the slate from the winning party casts the final vote. Though they are not legally bound to vote for the winner of the November election, all of them have pledged to, Galvin said.

“It was a nice visit to history,” he said of the ceremony, which included classical music from Project Step, a group that provides musical instruction to minority youth, and a rendition of the national anthem from the Boston Children’s Chorus.

The speakers included Bishop Bryant J. Robinson Jr. of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, a predominantly black church that saw its nearly completed new building destroyed by arsonists in 2008, hours after Obama’s first victory.

Three men were later convicted of federal civil rights violations in connection with the crime, which authorities said was racially motivated.

“I stand before you today as a testimony that those attributes [of prejudice] did not prevail,” Robinson said before delivering the opening prayer. “We are two years in occupancy [of the new church] and we are high-energy praise people.”

He said during his prayer, “We know that with the help of the Almighty, we will continue to grow into that more perfect union.” He also prayed for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

Similar scenes from the Electoral College played out on Monday in state capitols across the country, the Associated Press reported.

And though the atmosphere was festive on Beacon Hill, the Electoral College is not without controversy.

Four times in the nation’s history, most recently in the 2000 presidential election, the system has resulted in the winner of the national popular vote losing at the Electoral College, and thus losing the White House.

Several states including Massachusetts have approved bills stating they will shift their allocation of Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote, once enough states to encompass 270 electoral votes—the number needed to win—join them in their pact.

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