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Terminally ill elector sheds tears of gratitude after casting electoral vote

Washington state elector Jack Arends, who found out in November he has a terminal heart condition, wept after casting his vote for Joe Biden. “It was important for me to do this one thing (while) I still can.”
/ Source: TODAY

When Washington state elector Jack Arends found out last month that he has a terminal heart condition, it only made him more determined to carry out his duty in an emotional ceremony on Monday.

Arends, 64, registered his vote for President-elect Joe Biden with the state's other 11 electors in the state Capitol of Olympia, and then he put his head down on the wooden desk and wept silently.

Democrat Jack Arends, left, a member of Washington's Electoral College, is comforted by a fellow elector after Arends became emotional while talking about his failing health at the Capitol in Olympia on Monday. Ted S. Warren / AP

"(In) November I was told there is no more medical treatment that can help me so it was important for me to do this one thing that I could do while I still can,” Arends said as he slammed his fist on a table during the ceremony while fighting back tears.

Arends was one of 538 electors who gathered across the country on Monday to officially seal Biden's victory over President Donald Trump in the Electoral College. The Washington state electors unanimously voted for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who won 58% of the vote in the state.

As the only elector from Snohomish County, the retired aviation industry analyst was determined to carry out his duty. He told the Everett Herald that doctors informed him last month that his heart valve problem was inoperable.

"I don’t know how much time I am going to have on this earth, but I am going to make it count while I am here and that includes being an elector,” Arends told the Herald before Monday's ceremony. "It’s that one last box I want to check — I am determined to check it."

Wearing a black beret that said "Play nice" on it, he used a Sharpie marker to cast his vote for Biden. Arends eschewed the traditional quill pen used by electors in a jab at Trump, who often signed legislation with a Sharpie, according to the Herald.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican who presided over the voting, thanked Arends afterward.

"I am deeply touched by your emotion and I’m so glad that you’re here and that you are able to be one of the electors representing our state," she said, according to the The Washington Post. "It’s an honor to be in the room with you."