Remarks by Secretary of State Jim Bennett

Alabama Electoral College Ceremony
December 18, 2000

Good afternoon and welcome to this historic occasion. And a special thanks to Mr. Tom Walker and the American Village who provided us with the Ben Franklin and James Madison interpreters who greeted you this afternoon.

I would now like to ask you to rise as we begin this ceremony with our national anthem sung for us today by Dr. Dorothy Riggins from the State Department of Education. . .Dr. Riggins

I now call upon Rev. Jay Wolf, senior minister of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, for our invocation.

The ceremony you witness today is the living, breathing embodiment of our Constitution and is rooted in almost 200 years of custom and democracy. At this very hour, in capitols and state houses in all 50 states, electors are gathering to be the voice of the people and to give finality to this hotly contested presidential election. They may gather with differing political opinions, but they will leave united. We are all Americans, and when the election is over, we unite once again.

In some nations around the world, a close election like the one just experienced would be settled with tanks and guns and violence in the streets. In our nation, it was settled with the rule of law and the United States Constitution. And that is the strength of our nation, that an orderly transfer of power is prescribed, is possible and is accepted.

At this time, I would like to introduce Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, the co-chair of the Bush presidential campaign in Alabama, for some brief remarks.

Thank you, Gov. Windom. I will now introduce to you Alabama’s nine members of the Electoral College. Beginning on my far left, they are:

  • Mr. Glen Dunlap of Ozark
  • Mr. Bob Fincher of Woodland
  • Mr. Homer Jackson of Birmingham
  • Mr. Jerry Lathan of Theodore
  • Mrs. Elaine Little of Pelham
  • Mrs. Melba Peters of Huntsville
  • Mrs. Martha Stokes of Carrollton
  • Mrs. Jean Sullivan of Selma and
  • Mr. Edgar Welden of Birmingham

Pursuant to state law, I met with the electors in my office at noon. We determined that the entire delegation is here and accounted for.

Alabama has nine electors, equal to the number of representatives and senators that the state has in Congress. Presidential candidates submit their slate of electors to my office in August.

Shortly after the November General Election, the results were certified by the governor, the attorney general and myself acting as the state canvassing board. At that time, we certified George W. Bush the winner in Alabama with 57 percent of the vote. The electors were then notified of their election.

Before each elector, there are two ballots. I would ask each elector to cast their ballot, beginning with the presidential ballot and followed by the vice presidential ballot. When you are finished, please pass your ballots to the left so that Ms. Balogh can tally the results. You may begin.

As they cast their ballots, let me explain the procedures that we will follow today. Each elector will vote first for president and then for vice president according to federal law. The votes will be canvassed by Ms. Vicki Balogh, our state elections director, and the tally sheets and ballots will be kept in my office as a public record.

After the canvass, the electors and myself will then sign six certificates of the vote for president and vice president. Each of the certificates will be sealed in an envelope along with a certificate of ascertainment furnished by the governor that lists the electors. The electors will sign the sealed envelope certifying the documents inside are authentic.

The law provides that six sets be sent to different locations. Our founding fathers, living in an age of undependable transportation and communication, wanted a number of backup options in case the original vote count failed to make it to the nation’s capitol.

One set is sent by registered mail to the President of the U.S. Senate, who is Al Gore. This set will be opened on January 6 and counted along with the ballots from other states to determine who will serve as president and vice president.

Two sets will by kept in my office. Unless ordered to be delivered to the U.S. Senate, one set will be preserved for one year. The other set will be opened and kept as a public record for public inspection.

Two more sets will be sent to the Archivist of the United States and are treated just as the ones in my office.

Interestingly enough, federal law requires us to mail the set sent to the President of the Senate today while we are required to wait until tomorrow to send the two sets to the Archivist.

A final set is given to the presiding federal judge of the Middle District of Alabama, Judge Harold Albritton.

I see that the canvass is completed. Please pass me the official results.

Alabama’s electoral votes having been duly cast and canvassed are as follows. . .(results are announced)

We will now proceed with the signing of the certificates of the vote.

We have completed the certificates of election, and it is now time for us to conclude these proceedings.

The votes of the electors having been cast and canvassed and the certifications of election having been issued, we stand adjourned.

May God bless America and the United States Constitution.