Electoral College Member for Delaware, a Rutgers Professor, Ready to Vote for Joe Biden
Marla Blunt-Carter has been involved in politics her entire life. She volunteered on campaigns during her childhood, including her father’s campaign for city council, helped her sister who won a historic election to the U.S. House of Representatives and worked for President Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Until now, Blunt-Carter – an assistant professor of professional practice at the Rutgers School of Social Work – didn’t know anyone who was part of the Electoral College, which gets to directly cast ballots for the president of the United States. But on Dec. 14 she will be part of that elite group when she casts one of three Delaware Electoral College votes for President-Elect Joe Biden, who she used to work for when he was a U.S. Senator.
“I’m the only elector I ever met,” Blunt-Carter said. “The electors to me were like the people with the Nielsen boxes who help provide television ratings. You hear about them but don’t have any idea who they are.”
Blunt-Carter will be among 538 electors who will cast their ballots based on the popular vote. While a majority of 270 electoral votes are required to win, Biden garnered more – 306 compared to President Donald Trump’s 232.
Her vote that will be cast from Delaware State University, a historically Black college in Dover, DE, will be added to the list of important political moments that have punctuated Blunt-Carter’s life. These accomplishments include helping her sister, Lisa Blunt Rochester, in 2017 to become the first woman and the first person of color to represent Delaware in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I have been involved in pretty historic experiences and political campaigns,” said Blunt-Carter. “My father, sister, Biden and President Barack Obama. But this seems different because this vote will affect the whole country and is significant to everyone.”
Blunt-Carter, who was a Biden delegate at the virtual Democratic convention in August, was asked by the chair of the Delaware Democratic Party to be an elector a few days after Biden was nominated.
“As someone who has worked on campaigns since the age of 9 when I started helping my father, Ted Blunt, who was on the city council for 25 years, served on staff for elected officials, and believes in the ideals of American democracy, the significance of this role I do not take lightly,” Blunt-Carter said. “I am humbled by the selection and grateful for the opportunity to represent Delaware.”
Blunt-Carter received her master of social work (MSW) degree in 2003 from Rutgers and teaches graduate courses on macro social work practice, management and policy at Rutgers University-Camden. The School of Social Work named her Professor of the Year three times.
Before coming to Rutgers in 2014, teaching courses on issues ranging from diversity and social welfare policy to human resources and strategic planning, Blunt-Carter held a variety of communications and public policy jobs in higher education and federal and state government, including working in the Obama White House as the senior liaison for professional correspondence in the Office of the President.
In 2005, she worked for then-Senator Biden as his director of constituent services. She followed Biden to Iowa in 2007 when he entered the Democratic primary for president. After Biden dropped out of the race, Blunt-Carter became the Delaware director for the Obama presidential campaign.
“To be a part of that, involved in a campaign of the first African-American man selected to be president was unbelievable,” Blunt-Carter said. “I felt we had come such a long way. The diversity was so inspiring and gave me hope.”
Now, as a Delaware resident since the age of 3, raised in Wilmington, Blunt-Carter is excited about her former boss taking over the presidency with not only the first Black and Asian-American vice president, but also the first woman. She hopes their election will usher in change in a country grappling with a racial reckoning.
"The death of George Floyd brought the whole country to its knees,” Blunt-Carter said. “I am very hopeful and excited that the Biden/Harris administration will work to address issues related to social, racial, economic and environmental justice as well as getting the nation to the other side of the COVID pandemic.”
To cast her vote as part of the Electoral College, Blunt-Carter, the mother of a teenage daughter and college-age son, will have to place her signature nine times in a series of documents. The moment takes on special meaning for Blunt-Carter, who suffered a stroke in July 2019 that had left her temporarily unable to move her left side, including the use of her hand. She has been practicing signing her name to prepare for the day.
“When I got the phone call about becoming an elector I spoke with my middle sister, who is the family genealogist, and talked about the document she found where our great-great-great grandfather, a slave, had signed his name with an X to register to vote,” said Blunt-Carter, who spent months after her stroke in physical therapy. “I want whoever comes after me to know that someone who came from slaves, who survived a stroke, signed her name and voted in this historic election.”