A diagnosis of a terminal illness usually reshapes a person's focus. What is and isn't important often changes.
For Washington state's Jack Arends, there was one important thing he was able to check off his bucket list on December 14, 2020. On that day, Arends—who suffers from an inoperable heart valve disorder—cast his vote in the electoral college for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
The 64-year-old Democrat from Bremerton, Washington was overwhelmed with emotions and broke down in tears as a result.
You can watch Arends cast his vote here:
Arends arrived at the chambers of the Washington legislature wearing a hat with "PLAY NICE" on the brim and armed with two black Sharpie markers in a nod to outgoing President Donald Trump.
The retired aviation industry analyst said:
"Today is the chance to begin the end of the Trump administration."
"I was glad to do my duty and 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."
"It was important for me to do this one thing that I could do while I still can."
"It will be up to others to do the hardest work of rebuilding our nation as my health is fading."
"It's a great weight lifted from my shoulders being able to do this. I feel gratified to do what we were elected to do."
In 2016, four Washington state Democratic electors were faithless—meaning they voted for someone other than who they were pledged to vote for. That incident was the initial reason Arends accepted the role as a Democratic elector in June of this year.
But shortly after he was notified he'd be called upon to vote after the November election, he received the news about his health. Rather than drop out and allow an alternate to take his place, Arends was more determined than ever to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as a Washington elector.
Arends shared his statement from the day he made his electoral vote on his Facebook page.
Speaking to his local paper, The Everett Herald, before the vote, Arends stated:
"This was something I never anticipated, but the moment and the issues kind of came together and I thought it was something I had to do."
"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."
"It's that one last box I want to check—I am determined to check it."
People were moved by Arends dedication to democracy.
@HuffPost Mr.Arends, in my opinion you’re a bigger deal than you know. You’re brave & strong willed. Not many facin… https://t.co/7NVcWzGLgo— Claudia Thompson (@Claudia Thompson) 1608085110.0
Thank you to Jack Arends and all the faithful electors—for both candidates—who volunteered and did their duty as citizens of the United States in order to protect and preserve a more perfect union.