Former President Jimmy Carter voted for independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the 2016 Democratic primary. Carter made the disclosure during a panel discussion.
On May 8, Carter and Sanders sat down to discuss promoting human rights at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Their panel marked the facility's annual Human Rights Defenders Forum and was attended by approximately 70 activists from around the globe, AJC reports.
During the panel, Sanders asserted that the majority of the U.S. is progressive and that the Democratic Party should work towards increasing voter turnout.
"If we had 80 percent of the people voting in this country, the Republican Party would be a significant minority," Sanders said, according to The Daily Caller. “So we have got to get people involved. And you do that by being honest about the real problems they face and come up with real solutions.”
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The 92-year-old Carter responded by turning to the audience and announcing "Can y'all see why I voted for him?"
The former president did not make any endorsements during the 2016 Democratic primary, but offered former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton half-hearted support after she won the nomination.
"It's been an exciting and unprecedented kind of campaign this year, and unfortunately, the way it's turned out, both choices in the major parties are quite unpopular," Carter said in August 2016. "But I don't have any doubt that one of the candidates is better qualified than the other... Everybody knows that I'm a Democrat, and I'll be voting Democratic."
Since leaving office in 1981, Carter has rarely offered an endorsement for a Democratic candidate during a party primary. He had developed an unfriendly relationship with Clinton, particularly after former President Bill Clinton distanced himself from the one-term president's legacy, according to The New York Times.
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In 1992, then-candidate Clinton stated "Jimmy Carter and I are as different as daylight and dark."
In June 2008, Carter made the rare exception of endorsing former President Barack Obama before Secretary Clinton had conceded their primary battle, according to CNN.
While Carter did not elaborate on his vote for Sanders, he indicated later on during the panel that Clinton's association with establishment politics had lost her the election to President Donald Trump.
"People were willing to just take a chance and abandon democracy and what we knew about its basic principles just to try something new, no matter what it was," Carter said.