The fund-raising is over, the campaign ads have stopped running and nobody has taken any polls for weeks. But 538 people turned out to vote yesterday in an election that gave Ronald Reagan four more years as president of the United States.
They are the members of the electoral college, that constitutional relic that has survived repeated demands for its abolition and remains the mechanism by which the country selects its president and vice president.
The results will not be officially announced by Congress until Jan. 7, but in keeping with tabulations from last month's voting, 525 electors in 49 state capitals were expected to cast their ballots for President Reagan and Vice President Bush.
In the District of Columbia, three Democratic Party activists -- Sharon Pratt Dixon, Anita Bonds and Daria P. Winter -- yesterday stood in the City Council chambers and voted for Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine A. Ferraro. The District electors were joined in this ritual by 10 electors in Minnesota.
In Utah, David Fowers, 19, apparently became the youngest person to participate in the quadrennial process. Fowers, a freshman at the University of Utah, was chosen as one of five electors at the state's Republican convention last summer after printing posters and campaigning among the delegates.
Television crews were on hand in Salt Lake City yesterday to record the event -- not because of Fowers' age but because he was quoted as saying he might vote for independent presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche.
Actually, Fowers said, he always planned to vote for his "hero," Reagan, but he wanted to send a message that "something should be done to change the system" that in Utah and some other states does not bind electors to the candidate who wins the state's popular vote.
The electoral college has chosen two presidents, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and Benjamin Harrison in 1888, who lost the popular vote.
At City Council chambers here, Clifton B. Smith, secretary of the District, presided over the half-hour procedure. Six copies of the electors' ballots were certified and placed in sealed envelopes, according to Philip Ogilvie, an aide to Smith.
Two will be sent to the General Services Administration; one will be sent to Bush as secretary of the Senate; one will go to U.S. District Court Chief Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr.; one will be available for public inspection at the District Building, and one is supposed to be delivered to the president of the state senate. The District has no such body.
"I don't know what to do with that one," said Ogilvie, who probably will send it to City Council Chairman David A. Clarke.
Some states indulged in pomp and ceremony. In New York, the 38 electors were treated to lunch at a French restaurant in Albany, feted at the governor's mansion and presented with engraved commemorative silver bowls.
"It's the same script that's been used every four years," said William F. Brown, a spokesman for New York's secretary of state.
The New York electors, unlike those in the District, were to be paid $15 for the day, plus 13 cents a mile in travel expenses. Brown said they planned to contribute the money to famine victims in Ethiopia.
Brown said there was one moment of preelection excitement: the Libertarian Party wrote the electors, asking them to bolt the Republican ranks and vote for its presidential candidate, David Bergland. But because the electors are mainly Republican officials, headed by state GOP Chairman George Clark Jr., there were no defections.
"The whole thing was a fait accompli," Brown said.