LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas’ six electors formally cast their ballots for Republican Mitt Romney on Monday, handing the state’s support to the loser in the presidential contest but praising the gains the state GOP saw in this year’s election.
The state’s six delegates to the Electoral College unanimously backed Romney and Paul Ryan, his vice presidential nominees. The two easily won the state but lost the election to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“I would rather be here casting my vote for the next president of the United States, but Arkansas did all it could do to see that through and I’m proud to cast my vote as Arkansans wanted it cast,” said state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb, one of the six electors.
Romney carried about 61 percent of the vote in Arkansas, but Obama won re-election by garnering 332 of the 538 electoral votes nationwide. It marked the second time in a row where the state did not back the winner of the presidential contest. The state backed Republican John McCain over Obama in the 2008 election.
The roughly 30-minute ceremony at the old Supreme Court chamber of the state Capitol was one that was expected to be duplicated across the country as electors officially closed the book on the 2012 election.
The election marked a turning point for Republicans, who won control of the state House and state Senate for the first time in 138 years. Republicans also swept all four of the state’s U.S. House seats in last month’s election.
“It’s a superior feeling that we have that we can say Arkansas is now Republican,” said Reta Hamilton, an elector and Republican national committeewoman.
State Rep. Jonathan Barnett, who was elected chairman of the state’s delegation, praised the Electoral College system as a way for Arkansas to have its voice heard.
“I think all of us here are firm believers in this process,” said Barnett, R-Siloam Springs.
Arkansas’ other electors are Larry Bailey of Hot Springs, Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs and Benny Speaks of Mountain Home.
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