Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill presides over the Electoral College ceremony (Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant)

HARTFORD, CT –  In the first socially distanced, masked meeting of electors in a state Capitol building—seven Connecticut residents cast their votes for president and vice president of the United States.

Voices were muffled throughout the ceremony because of face masks.

“Everyone’s talking about the electors and we see very clearly how fragile our democracy can be,” Dana Barcellos Allen, one of the seven electors, said after the hour-long ceremony.

Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant
Connecticut’s seven Democratic electors gathered to each cast a ballot for Joe Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris.

“The Electoral College is a quirk of American democracy, but a pivotal one,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said.

Merrill says each state sets up its own process for choosing electors. In Connecticut these positions are filled at party conventions.

“Even though the original concept of the Electoral College is controversial and no longer functioning in the way it was originally intended, it has become symbolic of closure for a presidential election,” Merrill said.

In Connecticut, electors are bound by state law to cast a ballot for the candidate certified in the election.

“Nationally 270 electoral votes must be secured in order to win the presidency and in nearly all the states, including Connecticut by state statute, the presidential candidate who wins the state gets all of the state party’s electors,” Merrill said.

All seven of Connecticut’s votes were cast for Joe Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris as anticipated.

“The gravity of the situation—you just can’t really describe it,” Barcellos Allen said. “I’m a little bit speechless with how amazing that felt in representing the voices of over one million Connecticut voters.”

Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates melted sealing wax with a candle and dropped a dollop on the back of each envelope that was filled with the certificates. Merrill then stamped each one with the state seal.

One copy of each vote will be forwarded by certified mail to Vice President Mike Pence. In addition, two copies are delivered to Merrill, two copies are forwarded by certified mail to the national archivist at the National Archives and Record Administration in Washington and one copy will be delivered to U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill.

Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant
The electors are allowed to receive $10 a day for their duties but as tradition holds, they voted unanimously to waive the compensation.

For some, Monday might have been a formality, but some electors say it has more meaning because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.

“I think after today, hopefully we’ll have a nice transfer of power,” Susan Barrett, one of the seven electors, said.

For William Smith, Monday’s vote was monumental.

“It’s once in a lifetime. And when I say a lifetime, I’m already 94. It’s very monumental for me,” Smith said.

The Associated Press was the pool reporter for this event and some of the information they reported is included in this report.