After Powerful Speech on His Vote, an Elector's Emotional Reveal

Jack Arends of Washington state on his failing health: 'I was glad to do my duty'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2020 9:05 AM CST

On Monday, Washington state's dozen electors all cast their votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice president of the United States. One vote, however, proved a particularly emotional one. The Washington Post reports Jack Arends, a 64-year-old grassroots activist from Snohomish County, arrived at the Washington Senate chambers in a wheelchair, sporting a black beret that read "Play Nice." After he registered his vote—which he signed with a Sharpie, a jab at President Trump's penchant for using markers to sign things—Arends addressed his colleagues on the Senate floor. "Today is the chance to begin the end of the Trump administration," he said, his voice cracking. "I was glad to do my duty and rid our nation of a petty dictator," he continued, per the New York Times. "Had he won a second term, there is no limit to the damage he could have done to the world."

Arends also announced that he found out in November he's terminally ill. "It was important for me to do this one thing that I could do while I still can," he said. Arends had recently told the Daily Herald his medical condition revolves around a heart valve issue that's inoperable. "I don't know how much time I am going to have on this Earth, but I am going to make it count while I am here, and that includes being an elector," he said before the vote. "It's that one last box I want to check—I am determined to check it." And he did Monday, putting his head down on the desk in front of him after his speech and weeping with emotion, with a fellow elector at his side for comfort and to the applause of the rest of the chamber. "It's a great weight lifted from my shoulders being able to do this," he told the Herald after the procedures. See Arends' short but powerful speech here. (More electoral college stories.)

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