On 6 November 2012, Barack Obama and Joe Biden were re-elected President and Vice President of the United States. Or were they? As we all learned in our high school government class, the President and Vice President are officially elected by the Electoral College. Under this system, established by Article II and the 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution, voters in each state on Election Day are actually choosing a candidate’s slate of electors to serve in the Electoral College. Under Chapter 1 of Title 3, United States Code (62 Stat. 672, as amended), the Electoral College meets and votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. The 2012 Electoral College will meet on 17 December to cast Virginia’s 13 electoral votes for Obama and Biden.
The Library of Virginia has a variety of records in several collections (Secretary of the Commonwealth, Office of the Governor, Virginia General Assembly, etc.) related to the Virginia Electoral College from 1789 to 2008. Today, copies of the Certificate of Ascertainment and Certificate of Vote are transferred to the Library by the Virginia State Board of Elections. The Certificate of Ascertainment lists the names of the electors appointed and the number of votes cast for each person during the general election. The Certificate of Vote lists the totals for the Electoral College. Additional records … read more »
Last week President Barack Obama made minor news when he incorrectly signed the guest book at Westminster Abbey in London “24 May 2008.” Obama did not make the same mistake when, as a U.S. senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate, he signed the guest book at the Virginia Executive Mansion on 17 February 2007. Obama was the keynote speaker at the state Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond. Governor Tim Kaine endorsed Obama for president that night, becoming the first governor outside of Illinois to endorse a 2008 candidate for president. The guest book page signed by Obama is a good example of what archivists call a record with secondary value. The Society of American Archivists defines secondary value as “the usefulness or significance of records based on purposes other than that for which they were originally created.” The significance of the guest book is derived from future events: Obama winning the 2008 presidential election and Kaine’s importance as an early supporter. Another example of secondary value is a 21 July 1987 letter written by Mark R. Warner to Governor Gerald L. Baliles. The content of the letter is quite ordinary – a young businessman wants to get involved in Virginia politics and requests a meeting with the governor. The letter’s secondary value originates from Warner’s election as governor in 2001 and United … read more »