George Bush's son Neil and brother Prescott joined 536 other Americans Monday in formally electing Bush president, fulfilling the antiquated but surviving constitutional ritual of the Electoral College.

"It was a nice honor, to get to cast a vote for my dad," Neil Bush, a Denver oilman, said before performing his duty. "It'll be nice to be a small footnote in history."In state capitals across the nation, designated electors met to carry out their constitutional obligation and cast their electoral ballots.

This sets the stage for the final ceremony in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 4, when Vice President Bush, as president of the Senate, will open the ballots and announce the results _ and formally declare himself the president-elect.

The ritual is something of an anticlimax to the long presidential year.

Bush defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis in the general election with 53 percent of the more than 91 million votes cast and carrying enough states to win 426 electoral votes to Dukakis' 112.

That should be the vote after Monday's meetings, give or take a "faithless elector" or two, should there be any.

In Utah, the state's five Electorial College voters were to gather in the Capitol at noon to cast their ballots for Bush. Their support of the vice presidentfollows a streak of five straight wins for Republican presidential candidates inUtah.

While the majority of Utah voters have given their support to the Republican presidential nominee since 1968, before that Utahns split their votes between the two parties.

Since 1936, Utah voters have awarded the state's electoral votes to five Democrats and nine Republicans. The last time Utah gave its majority support to a Democrat was in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson won over Barry Goldwater.

Bush did not, however, receive as much Utah support as Ronald Reagan did in his two presidential bids. Bush won 67 percent of Utah's popular vote over Michael Dukakis. Utahns gave Reagan 78 and 75 percent of their votes in 1980 and 1984,respectively.

In Colorado, Neil Bush was meeting with the state's seven other electors in the governor's office at noon local time. His uncle Prescott was to vote in Connecticut.

Among the electors voting was Bush's designated White House chief of staff, New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who seconded Bush's nomination at the Republican National Convention, was a Pennsylvania elector.

Electors are expected to vote for their party's presidential and vice presidential nominees. But in this unique American system, the Constitution doesn't require it. Eight electors over the years have broken their pledges and voted for someone else.