David Bright, a political activist and organic farmer from Dixmont, felt the Bern big time this year.

He said Thursday he hoped U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders would wind up in the White House and confessed he is mulling one long-shot possibility that might still put the Vermont progressive in the Oval Office.

Both Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the person who beat him for the Democratic nomination last summer, fell short, leaving Republican Donald Trump as the president-elect.

But 538 people haven’t yet cast their potentially decisive votes in the election — the often-overlooked Electoral College, which includes four members from Maine.

Bright, who is one of them, said he will likely cast his ballot on Dec. 19 for Clinton, who won the state on Nov. 8, but there’s at least one scenario where he might not.

He said that if it appears Trump won’t get the 270 votes he needs to claim the presidency, Bright will probably back the guy he wanted from the start: Sanders.


Bright said that if enough Republican electors choose “to sit on their hands” and refrain from backing Trump, the election would get tossed into the U.S. House of Representatives, whose members would have to pick from among the three people who capture the most Electoral College votes.

By picking Sanders, Bright would perhaps ensure that his first choice would at least have a dim chance of emerging on top.

Bright said that with the GOP in control of Congress, he knows they won’t pick Clinton but there’s at least a shot that they might go along with Sanders.

“The Republicans don’t hate Sanders but they do hate Clinton,” Bright said.

Bright said he hasn’t seen much indication that the Electoral College is going to go rogue for the first time in American history.

Though some electors, especially on the West Coast, have said they are trying to undermine Trump — and one Trump elector in Texas resigned rather than vote for him — there isn’t much of a chance that enough electors will jump ship to change the outcome.


Trump captured 306 electoral votes in the Nov. 8 balloting so rejecting him would require that 37 Republican electors switch. So far, none have said they will.

But seven Democratic electors around the country, including three in Washington, have said they intend to cast their votes for an unnamed Republican consensus candidate in the hope of luring GOP electors wary of Trump to join their quest to stop the New York developer from taking office.

Bright said he hasn’t had anyone contact him to inquire about his willingness to join in some kind of coordinated effort to block Trump.

Maine’s three other electors — Republican Party chief Richard Bennett and Democrats Sam Shapiro and Diane Denk — could not be reached Thursday. Bennett is slated to cast the first Republican electoral vote from Maine in nearly three decades.

“I would be very surprised if any of us wouldn’t dance with the one who brung us,” Bright said.

He added, though, that even if he votes for Clinton for president, he might still cast a ballot for Sanders as vice president. That’s what his wife is urging him to do, he said.


The last time an elector failed to cast an expected vote occurred 40 years ago when one from Washington ignored President Gerald Ford’s victory in his state and cast a ballot instead for Ronald Reagan, who had lost a primary to Ford.

Electors are scheduled to gather in each state’s capital on Dec. 19 to cast their votes. Maine’s Electoral College vote will take place at 2 p.m. at the State House.

Bright said he’s never been an elector before. He stumbled into it because he wanted to be a national convention delegate for Sanders.

He said that when he went on the state Democratic Party’s website to get the appropriate petition forms he noticed another form to become an elector.

Figuring it was “just another clipboard,” he collected signatures for both and wound up chosen as one of the party’s four electors for the exclusive but rarely noticed Electoral College.

Bright said it is cool to be among them.


At a time when some Democrats are pushing to eliminate the institution, Bright is standing by it.

He said that Clinton may have won the popular vote, but the reality is that she only did so because she rolled up big wins in California and New York.

“I’m really not interested in having my presidents chosen in the land of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi,” said Bright, referring to leading politicians from the two states. Pelosi is minority leader in the U.S. House and Schumer is in line to be her counterpart in the U.S. Senate.

Bright said the Electoral College was designed “so the small states don’t get lost in the shuffle” and he thinks that’s a good idea.

He said, though, he wished other states would follow the lead of Maine and Nebraska in awarding electoral votes to the winners in each congressional district instead of a winner-take-all system.

Axing the Electoral College and making the presidency depend solely on who wins a national vote would open the door to mischief and exceedingly difficult national recounts in the case of a close contest, Bright said.


With the whole country in play, he said, a recount would necessarily be messy and hard since every ballot cast would have to be checked in every state.

Besides, he said, the idea of having an Electoral College as a potential way to pick someone other than the apparent winner on Election Day is not necessarily a bad idea.

“It’s a good piece of the way government works,” Bright said.

Bright said he feels as “an honorable person” that he’s obligated to represent the will of the electorate when the Electoral College gets together. As an at-large elector, he’s obligated to vote for Clinton because she won Maine.

But, he said, he’s also aware that 70 percent of Maine’s Democratic convention delegates wanted Sanders to be their candidate.

Maine is among the states that require electors to cast their votes in keeping with the outcome of the election.


Bright pointed out, though, that there’s no penalty for failing to do so.

He said he’s not overly worried about Trump coming to power.

“I’m not really afraid of him,” Bright said. “I think he’s more of a pragmatist than a wacko.”

He said he is pretty confident that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan “and those guys will keep a lid” on Trump and make him adhere to a conservative agenda.

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