In 1964, Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter voted for Barry Goldwater for president, his first time voting and a choice he recalls with pride.
“First time I ever got to vote,” Otter told a crowd of students before presiding over the state canvass of presidential electors at noon today. “That was one of the best votes I ever made.”
Goldwater lost big to Lyndon B. Johnson winning only 38.5 percent of the popular vote and only 52 electoral votes.
Fast forward 44 years and Idaho’s four Republican electors—Darlene Bramon, Ben Doty, John Erickson and Melinda Smyser—cast their votes today for John McCain and Sarah Palin, who did better than Goldwater-Miller with 45.7 percent of the popular vote and 173 electoral votes. But still not good enough.
Otter lectured the assembled students, classes from Centennial High School and from Boise’s STEP program, a high school continuation course for older students with disabilities, on the sensibility of the Electoral College: “There was never a shot fired, there was never a death caused by a peaceful transition of government,” he said.
Six copies of Idaho’s Electoral College certificates were signed and will be sent to Vice President Dick Cheney, the U.S. archives, the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office and to Idaho’s U.S. District Court Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill. Congress will officially count the electoral votes prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.
Outside the Borah Building, while the votes were being cast, a small crowd gathered to celebrate Idaho’s Constitution Day and read a proclamation that Otter had signed. In the audience, a Ron Paulite on a BMX bike, Pro-Life, a former U.S. Senate candidate who offered to bring more strawberries by the BW office next spring and two guys in wigs, dressed up like Ben Franklin and Patrick Henry held forth on the infallibility of the U.S. Constitution.
As for Otter’s 1964 vote for Goldwater, a candidate who would have fit in well at the Constitution Day event on the Post Office steps, even without a wig: that was the last year that Idaho’s presidential vote went to a Democrat.