POLITICS
12/19/2016 04:03 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2016

Electoral College Faithless Elector Foiled Trying To Vote For Bernie Sanders

A Maine elector said he wanted to encourage young Sanders supporters "to stick around."

A renegade Electoral College vote intended for Sen. Bernie Sanders failed to make it to the ballot box Monday after a Maine elector’s vote was deemed invalid. 

Maine elector David Bright had announced plans to vote for Sanders (I-Vt.) instead of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the winner of his state’s popular vote. Bright cast his first ballot for Sanders, but changed it to Clinton after his “faithless elector” vote was rejected. 

“I had taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state of Maine,” Bright, a farmer from Dixmont, said at the state capitol building in Augusta. “If I thought my vote could have helped Secretary Clinton to win the presidency, I would have voted for her on the first round.”

I can’t do anything to change the results of the election this year. But perhaps by encouraging these idealistic voters to stick around, I can change the results of elections to come.” David Bright, Maine Electoral Voter

Facing the unlikelihood that 38 Republican electors across the U.S. would defect from their party and cast ballots to give Clinton the electoral majority needed to win, Bright said he was left to find “a positive statement I could make with my vote.”

“I am not a Clinton elector, I am a Democratic elector. I do not represent Democrats from all over the country, I represent Democrats in Maine,” Bright said. Sanders trounced Clinton in Maine’s primary caucus, with nearly twice as many votes.

Bright, who supported Sanders in the primary, said his “faithless elector” vote was not out of disrespect for Clinton. Rather, it was intended to acknowledge the “thousands” of Maine voters ― many of them voting for the first time ― who cast ballots for Sanders. 

After explaining his changed vote, Bright delivered a prepared statement underscoring the importance of encouraging young voters. 

Trump was declared the winner of November’s general election, even though he lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million to Clinton because of his state-by-state tally in Electoral College votes. The official Electoral College vote on Monday is likely to make that victory official. 

Trump’s loss in the popular vote emboldened his opponents to encourage state electors to go “faithless” and deny him victory by switching their pledged votes to Clinton, or even to another Republican, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

Maine is one of 30 states that has laws binding electors to their state’s popular vote. The law, however, is unenforceable and carries no penalty. In at least the past century, no electoral voter from Maine has ever acted as a faithless elector. 

“I can’t do anything to change the results of the election this year,” Bright said. “But perhaps by encouraging these idealistic voters to stick around, I can change the results of elections to come.”

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