Iowa AFSCME Member Gains Spot in Electoral College

by Jon Melegrito  |  November 21, 2012

President Obama poses for a picture with Marc Wallace (left) and other Obama campaign volunteers
President Obama poses for a picture with Marc Wallace (left) and other Obama campaign volunteers who were part of the Presidential motorcade that drove into a farm near Oskaloosa, Iowa, in August. (Photo courtesy of The White House)

Marc Wallace did everything he could to make sure President Obama is re-elected. He knocked on a thousand doors, made more than 500 phone calls, served as a Get-Out-the-Vote staging location captain and team leader in his Des Moines, Iowa, neighborhood, and voted early – like the 673,000 other Iowans who cast their ballots before Election Day.

But that’s not all. The 46-year-old state public defender and member of Local 2984 (Council 61) is one of six state electors who has the distinct honor of actually electing the President of the United States. That’s because Presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College, not by popular vote. With Obama winning the necessary amount of Electoral College votes (322 to Romney’s 206), Wallace gets to cast one of them on Dec. 17 when 538 electors gather at their state capitals to make the election results official.

“I will be casting my ballot in front of the governor of Iowa at the time we are entering contract negotiations,” says Wallace, who gained a spot as elector at the Democratic Party’s state convention in June.  “I want to remind him [Republican Gov. Terry E. Branstad] that my sisters and brothers are skilled and dedicated workers who provide vital services to the public and put their lives on the line every day.” Council 61 Pres. Danny Homan has criticized Branstad for being “dead set on destroying our jobs, our benefits, and our right to collectively bargain.”

Wallace adds that he’s proud of AFSCME’s major role in electing a President who fights for working families and the middle class. And being an elector from Iowa, Wallace points out, is equally a source of pride. “As everyone knows, we are the first in the nation to choose our state party’s nominee for President of the United States. And it’s a choice made by real, everyday voters.” President Obama started his Presidential journey when he won in the 2008 Iowa caucuses. “Iowans re-elected him this year because we are feeling more optimistic about where the nation is headed,” says Wallace, a U.S. army veteran who also headed the Iowa campaign of Veterans and Military Families for Obama. “Veterans know President Obama has their backs.”

Reflecting on what being an elector has meant to him and his family, Wallace mentions his 10-year-old twins, Alexander and Zachary. “I hope someday they’ll appreciate the personal sacrifices I have made, being away from home the past few months. To make a difference, we have to be actively involved in our community.”

Adds his wife, Karen, a Drake University professor: “I don’t think our sons entirely understand it, yet, but we will certainly use it as an educational opportunity. What they know now is that Dad worked really, really hard during the campaign.”

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