As Democrats urge electors to “vote their conscience,” one elector has taken their advice — but perhaps not in the way that they meant.
Maine elector David Bright appears to be the first to go rogue — casting his ballot for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton.
— Michael Shepherd (@mikeshepherdME) December 19, 2016
Electors in his state are required by law to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote, but Bright is not concerned.
“Maine also has a law that you’re not supposed to go faster than 70 on the interstate,” Bright told the Portland Press Herald. “I suspect that I’m going to break that law on my trip to Augusta this morning, too.”
Bright, a long-time Democratic activist, hopes that his effort will help to keep new voters inspired — who may have been disenfranchised by the party’s efforts to prevent Sanders from winning.
“The very least I can do is tell these new voters, ‘look, somebody did listen to you. I want you to know that politics is hard, democracy is hard and messy. Sometimes you lose elections, but you need to stay in there,’” Bright said.
In a statement on Facebook, Bright explained that if he believed Clinton had a shot he would have voted for her.
“If my vote today could have helped Secretary Clinton win the presidency, I would have voted for her. But as the Electoral College meets all across this nation on this day, I see no likelihood of 38 Republican electors defecting from their party and casting their ballots for Secretary Clinton,” he wrote.
Knowing that Clinton has no shot at winning, he said, he believed that the best way to use his vote would be to make a positive statement by supporting Sanders, who many believe was cheated.
Here is his statement in full:
If my vote today could have helped Secretary Clinton win the presidency, I would have voted for her. But as the Electoral College meets all across this nation on this day, I see no likelihood of 38 Republican electors defecting from their party and casting their ballots for Secretary Clinton.
So Hillary Clinton will not become President, and there is nothing I can do about that. Knowing this, I 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 all over the country, I represent the Democrats in Maine.
I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders not out of spite, or malice, or anger, or as an act of civil disobedience. I mean no disrespect to our nominee. I cast my vote to represent thousands of Democratic Maine voters – many less than a third my age – who came into Maine politics for the first time this year because of Bernie Sanders. They organized, telephoned and sent in their 27 dollars. Many stood in line for hours in order to navigate our byzantine system of caucuses and convention this Spring so they could be among the two thirds of Maine Democrats who cast a vote for Sanders.
Most importantly, they did this to vote FOR someone they believed in, not to vote against someone they feared.
Sadly, when the primary season was over, and their candidate was not successful, many of them lost hope, as well as interest. Many felt the Democratic Party had not listened to them, did not care about them, and did not respect them. Their sense of loss in July became our Party’s loss in November.
Democracy is hard, and messy, and complicated, and those of us who have been at this game for a long time have learned to take the defeats when they come. But those lessons don’t come easily for new voters.
So I cast my Electoral College vote for Bernie Sanders today to let those new voters who were inspired by him know that some of us did hear them, did listen to them, do respect them and understand their disappointment. I want them to know that not only can they come back to the process, but that they will be welcomed back; that there is room in the Democratic Party for their values.
To go forward, the Democratic Party needs these young voters.
More importantly, America needs these young voters.
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.