AUSTIN - Republican Mitt Romney was a winner Monday - in Texas.
Although he fell short throughout the country on Election Day, the former Massachusetts governor picked up the votes of all 38 presidential electors in Texas Monday because a majority of voters in this state backed him on Nov. 6.
But it wasn't enough to give Romney victory.
Presidential voters nationwide - including several from North Texas - headed to their state capitols Monday to cast votes in the 538-member Electoral College. A majority officially re-elected Democratic President Barack Obama to a second term.
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"It was very touching to me to vote, but it was bittersweet almost," said Kaye Moreno, a Fort Worth woman who was one of Texas' more than three dozen electoral voters. "I enjoyed the whole process."
It is the Electoral College, not the popular vote, that officially determines who will live in the White House.
And Texas Secretary of State John Steen told voters he appreciated their presence and participation.
"Our system of government depends on citizen service," he told voters. "Thank you for your dedication to Texas."
On Monday, 38 Texans - one from each congressional district and two selected statewide - gathered in the Texas House of Representatives chamber to cast their votes for the GOP presidential slate of Romney and Paul Ryan, who handily claimed a majority in this state.
Before the ceremony began, some electoral voters posed for photos in front of the large Christmas tree displayed in the middle of the chamber.
Once the ceremony began, after prayers and pledges, Steen and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson welcomed the volunteer voters to the Capitol.
Within an hour, the voters quietly, and with little fanfare, had cast private paper ballots first for Romney, then for Ryan.
"Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts wins the vote 38-0," said Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri, who was chosen to preside over the process. "Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin received 38 votes. No other candidate received any votes."
For Georgia Scott, another electoral voter with North Texas ties, it was an amazing experience.
"This is such a historical moment," said Scott, who lives in Bluff Dale but was born and raised in Fort Worth. "I'm part of history."
Scott said putting her ballot in the box was "like a dream."
"The Electoral College is something you hear about all your life," she said. "Today, I was part of it."
Kenneth Williams was almost part of it.
Williams, one of the Democratic Electoral College voters who would have voted if Obama had won Texas, sat in the gallery above the House floor, watching Republicans vote.
"I was so close to being there," the 57-year-old mechanic who works for the U.S. Postal Service said. "I would have been proud to represent my district."
But Williams, who made sure to wear his Democratic tie, said Monday's ceremony inspired him.
"It just gives me that much more burning fire to work so that in four years, I'm sitting there with the Democrats voting."
The Electoral College dates back to the late 1700s as the name given to a group of citizens chosen by "the people" to formally cast the final vote for president and vice president.
The founding fathers created this Electoral College, and put it in the Constitution, as a way to create a middle ground between letting Congress and qualified voters nationwide elect the president. They also wanted to give every state a proportionate voice in the process.
As a result, they devised the 538-vote Electoral College and determined a simple majority - 270 votes - would determine country's president every four years.
In each state, two sets of voters are chosen and poised to cast their ballots, depending on which candidate wins their state's vote.
On Election Day, the Obama-Biden ticket carried 27 states, picking up a total of 332 electoral votes. The Romney-Ryan ticket won 24 states, earning 206 electoral votes.
Since Romney won Texas, the 38 Republican electors voted in Austin Monday. If Obama had won Texas' vote, 38 Democrats would have instead traveled to Austin for Monday's vote.
Federal law states that Electoral College voters meet on the Monday after the second Wednesday of December. The ballots from each state will be sent to Vice President Joe Biden, who will read them to both houses of Congress on Jan. 6 - unless Congress changes the date.
Once the results are read, Obama's win is official and final. And he will move forward to his second inauguration, on Jan. 21.
The Electoral College process last fell under the microscope in 2000, when George W. Bush won the Electoral College, 271-266 (one voter abstained) even though Gore won the nation's popular vote.
Opponents continue to call for changes to let the nation's popular vote determine the winner.
But Scott, of Bluff Dale, said it's important for the Electoral College to remain.
"Some people say it's out of date," she said. "But it's not. We need to keep it going."
Anna M. Tinsley, (817) 390-7610