‘It was important for me to do this one thing,’ a terminally ill elector said, casting his vote for Biden.

Jack Arends wore a black beret, a bright blue tie and slammed his fist on the desk before him as he announced that he was casting his vote, faithfully, for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

“I was glad to do my duty and rid our nation of a petty dictator,” said Mr. Arends, an elector for Washington State, his voice shaking. “I did so enthusiastically and of my own choice. I did not need a law to tell me I had to do it.”

The moment became emotional as he announced that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness in November and had hoped to still be able to cast his vote on Monday.

“I was told there was no more medical treatment that would help me, so it was important for me to do this one thing that I could do, while I still can,” Mr. Arends said before he broke down sobbing, drawing applause from the body gathered in the capital building.

Though Mr. Arends, one of the state’s 12 electors, spoke critically of the Electoral College, saying it is “not great,” he stressed that he was determined to do his duty in submitting his vote.

In 2016, three of Washington State’s Democratic electors turned “faithless” and cast their electoral votes for Colin L. Powell, while a fourth Democratic elector voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American tribal leader, rather than for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, who had won the state.

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