Meet the Black Women Electors Who’ll Cast Their Electoral Votes Today
Biden and Harris will secure their victory today despite the GOP’s attempt to delegitimize millions of votes
When I get on the phone with Meedie Bardonille, a cardiac ICU nurse in Washington, D.C., she’s walking into work, armed with doughnuts for her colleagues.
It’s rare for interview subjects to ask how I’m doing. But then again, Bardonille is a nurse. It’s her job to care and to show concern and compassion. Even in a year that has demanded so much from our health care workers, they somehow find a way to keep pressing on.
Bardonille, however, is not your typical health care worker. She’s been on the D.C. Board of Nursing since 2017 — she currently serves as chair — and this year, she’s also a member of the Electoral College.
“And I think, particularly during this year, dealing with Covid and everything else that has happened, I understand politics and the influence of participating in the system.”
“I want to start off by saying I don’t consider myself a politician,” Bardonille says. “I am an advocate. And I think, particularly during this year, dealing with Covid and everything else that has happened, I understand politics and the influence of participating in the system.”
On December 14, she’ll be one of three women serving as electors representing the district, casting votes that will sign, seal, and deliver the election results to effectively certify a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration. It will be a major moment not just because of the significance of that ticket — Harris will be the first Black and South Asian woman elected vice president — but also because several of the electors, including Bardonille, will be Black women, too.
Still, Bardonille acknowledges the racist beginnings of the Electoral College and empathizes with calls for the entire process to be abolished: “I think the Electoral College is an imperfect compromise,” Bardonille says. “I am by absolutely no means a constitutional scholar. But as a citizen, we have to participate in this system until it’s changed. Quite frankly, I don’t believe that it’s completely fair and equitable.”
Bardonille, a Howard University graduate just like the vice president-elect, says that Harris is helping to raise the profile of HBCUs.
“It validates the value of an education from an HBCU,” Bardonille says. “So not only does it make a significant mark as a Black woman certifying or validating, if you will, another Black woman and her right to be there, it validates also the fact that she went to an HBCU. And she’s now sitting in the highest office in the land of any woman ever in the United States of America, and she was educated at a Black university.”
And 600 miles south of D.C., another HBCU grad will cast an electoral vote for Biden-Harris: Stacey Abrams.
“Georgians decided, and as an elector, I will be proud to join 15 fellow Georgia Democrats in casting my vote for @JoeBiden, winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes and president-elect of the United States,” Abrams wrote on Twitter in November.
The Spelman College graduate and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate has been credited with playing a key role in flipping the traditionally Republican stronghold state, in large part thanks to her voter outreach efforts. Georgia last voted for a Democratic president nearly 30 years ago in 1992, when Bill Clinton edged out a narrow win.
Another history-making moment took place in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, where Black and Latinx voters in Omaha helped secure a Democratic win. Nebraska is one of two states that allows its Electoral College votes to be split; this has happened only one other time, back in 2008 when the same district gave one vote to Barack Obama.
Precious McKesson will be the first Black woman from Nebraska to cast an electoral vote and the first woman ever to cast one for a Democrat. Since most states, with the exception of Nebraska and Maine, use a winner-take-all approach with electoral votes, McKesson will be casting her vote alongside electors who will be voting for the Republican ticket. It was a scenario she was prepared for regardless of the election outcome, but now it’s “even sweeter.”
“Even if Biden and Harris may not have won the election, it would have been fine, because they did win the congressional district,” McKesson says. “But what makes it even sweeter is I’m going down there and doing that vote, and I’m doing it for them because they are now the president and the vice president of the United States. The others still have to come even though their candidate didn’t win.”
When McKesson, who serves as the finance director for the Nebraska Democratic Party, reflects on the magnitude of her singular vote, she begins to get a little emotional.
“I represent that community because I want them to have the best.”
“This was not my plan, but I feel like I did the hard work,” McKesson says. “I knew what I wanted for my community and for the people that I represent.”
And for her, representation is truly all-encompassing.
“I don’t just represent the African American community; I represent Latinos and Asian Pacific Islanders,” she says. “I represent our LGBTQ+ community — I’m not a member of that community, but I represent them too because again, these are the constituencies who always receive the short end of the stick or are always left out. My brother’s disabled. I represent that community because I want them to have the best.”
On December 14, she’ll step into the governor’s office with a small entourage — her teenage daughter, mother, niece, and great-aunts — watching her make history.
“Being able to go down and cast that vote, it means so much,” McKesson says. “And knowing that we will now have a woman of color in the office fighting every day, thinking about people who look like her also — it just means a lot. It opens the door for so much more.”