The most important college in Maine next week doesn’t have a mascot, professors, classes or students.

Its purpose is succinct: the election of the next president of the United States. There’s no guarantee that electors will ratify Republican Donald Trump’s Election Day triumph, but those pushing for an alternative are running out of time.

The Electoral College’s members will gather in state capitals across the country Dec. 19 to cast 538 ballots. If someone wins the majority of them, he will be the 45th president.

Trump captured 306 electoral votes Nov. 8 while Democrat Hillary Clinton trailed with 232, despite winning nearly 3 million more votes overall, thanks mostly to lopsided victories in California and New York.

If everything goes as expected, Maine’s four electors will meet at 2 p.m. Dec. 19 at the State House to cast three votes for Clinton and one for Trump.

There is a longshot move afoot, though, to deny Trump the electoral votes he needs. At least one of his electors, from Texas, has publicly declared he will vote for someone else instead.


U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., told CNN Monday the idea behind the Electoral College was to prevent someone who is “manifestly ill-equipped to be president” from taking office. He said electors should stop Trump.

Nine Democratic electors across the country, calling themselves “Hamilton Electors,” are pressing their GOP colleagues to thwart Trump’s victory by joining them in voting for “a moderate Republican” instead.

Their strategy is to ensure nobody wins a majority, a move that would throw the final decision to the House of Representatives, which would have the opportunity to pick from among the three candidates who received the most votes in the Electoral College.

David Bright, one of Maine’s three Democratic electors, said Monday the rebels will “go with someone else,” perhaps Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont.

Trump foes hope congressmen might rally behind a newly available moderate rather than expose the country to the risks they believe Trump embodies, from possible conflicts with his businesses to his support for better relations with Russia.

Ten Democratic electors Monday asked to receive an intelligence briefing about Russian interference in the election before they are required to cast their votes next week.


Maine’s sole GOP elector, Richard Bennett, the state Republican Party chairman, is unlikely to dump Trump when he casts his ballot. Trump easily won Maine’s 2nd District to capture the electoral vote, the first time Maine has had a split among its electors, and the GOP plans a celebration of Trump’s success right after the electors are finished Monday.

But there is a possibility that one or more of the three Democratic electors might prove faithless to Clinton.

Bright, a big Sanders fan, said he plans to send an email this week to other former Sanders backers to see if there’s any interest in trying to install Sanders as the number three option should enough Republicans join the anti-Trump bandwagon.

He said last month he might go for Sanders, if not for president then perhaps for vice president.

At this point, though, Bright hasn’t seen much activism on the Democratic side in terms of pressing the case for Sanders.

But, he said, “It’s only Monday and they don’t wake up until Wednesday.”


Bright said that shrewd political operatives now have their eye on snagging that third slot for their candidate. He said if gets to the House, he thinks the politicians will skip Trump and Clinton to pick the alternative.

Maine law doesn’t say much about what’s required for electors.

It lays out that each political party should nominate its preferred electors and that they should convene in the House chamber on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December.

If an elector fails to show up, the others will replace him by majority vote and then the electors will cast ballots for president and vice president. The two at-large electors are supposed to vote for the statewide Election Day winner and each district elector is required to vote for the presidential candidate who won their district.

But the law doesn’t lay out any penalty for electors who prove faithless.

Bright said he thinks they are federal officials who can’t be told which way to vote because they have a constitutional role to play that states cannot dictate.


But he said electors won’t lightly cast a ballot for someone other than their party’s nominee.

The Electoral College gathering in Augusta will include a number of steps before anyone casts one of their crucial ballots, including the choice of sergeant-at-arms, president, secretary, legal counsel, stenographer, page and messenger to carry the results to the U.S. District Court.

Once the formalities are out of the way, the four electors will hold separate elections for president and vice president.

The event is open to the public.

Bright said officials expect some protesters outside the State House so they’re making sure there’s enough security for the ceremony.

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