Terminally ill Washington elector openly wept after sharing what casting his ballot meant

As all 50 states fulfilled their duty in the Electoral College to officially elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States on December 14, a sadly beautiful scene unfolded in the Senate chambers of the Washington State Capitol.

Jack Arends is one of Washington's 12 electors whose job it was to cast their vote for Biden, as the former vice president won the state with 58% of the vote. But for Arends, executing that duty held a special significance. The 64-year-old elector arrived at the capital in a wheelchair, wearing a mask and a hat that read "PLAY NICE." And when it came time for him to say a few words about casting his vote, his brief speech cast a solemn, patriotic atmosphere throughout the room.

He began by thanking Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, his fellow electors, and Democratic leaders for the kindness and support they'd shown him in the process of getting there.

"I have noted through this time that the electoral college is not great, but it is the system we have in place," he said. "Knowing that, I was set on being faithful elector, so I cast my ballot today for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I did so enthusiastically, of my own choice. I did not need a law to tell me I had to do it. Today is a chance to begin the end of the Trump administration. I was glad to do my duty, to rid our nation of a petty dictator. Had he won a second term, there is no limit to the damage he could have done to the world."

Arends then went on to make a sobering announcement.


"It will be up to others to do the hard work of rebuilding our nation, as my health is failing. 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. Again, thank you. And God bless our great country."

Arends then lay his head down on the table and openly wept.

Elector Jack Arends casts his vote for Joe Biden www.youtube.com

The room burst into applause for Arends. The Everett Herald newspaper reported that Arends had actually received the news of his terminal heart condition just days after he was selected to serve as an elector. "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 paper prior to the proceedings. "It's that one last box I want to check — I am determined to check it."

Another detail from Arends casting his vote is that he did so with a Sharpie pen instead of the traditional quill—a symbolic jab at Trump signing legislation with a black Sharpie.

"The ceremony and tradition of this meeting marked an end to one of the most contentious elections of our time," said Secretary of State Wyman, one of the many Republican state election officials who have defended the integrity of this election. "While some people continue to call into question this election, average citizens from all walks of life will step up today to exercise their responsibility to perform their constitutional duty."

"It's a great weight lifted from my shoulders being able to do this," Arends told The Herald after the vote. "I feel gratified to do what we were elected to do."

This is what true patriotism looks like. Thank you for your service, Mr. Arends.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.