AUGUSTA — House Democrats gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill that would have Maine join a compact with other states pledging their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote for president.

If passed and signed by Gov. Janet Mills, Maine would join 16 other states and Washington, D.C., in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would only be activated if enough states join and pool their electoral votes to effectively choose the president. The effort would not eliminate the electoral college process, but it would guarantee that the winner of the nationwide popular votes also carries the Electoral College.

similar bill was considered in Maine in 2019. It passed the Senate, but ultimately died in the House.

The House voted 74-67 for the bill, with nine members absent. Four Democrats and an independent joined unified opposition from Republicans, who argued that the national popular vote movement would result in Mainers losing their electoral voice to large cities and would lead to “the tyranny of the majority.” Under the bill, Maine would effectively support the national winner even if that doesn’t reflect the state’s results.

Rep. Arthur Bell, D-Yarmouth, said the bill is needed to reduce the influence of a handful of swing states that have decided the presidential elections in the Electoral College in recent years.

“Those are the states getting all of the attention,” Bell said. “We all know, the last ‘x’ number of election cycles, we sit up late at night as the results come in and it’s those half dozen states – those battleground states – that are determining who’s going to be president of the United States and that doesn’t feel good, so I like the idea of my vote counting just as much as somebody in Ohio, or Pennsylvania or Georgia.”


But House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, said Maine’s current process, which awards an electoral college vote to the winner of each congressional district and two additional votes to the statewide winner, is the “gold standard” that should be followed by other states.

Faulkingham said the proposal would move the state closer to direct democracy – something the founding fathers specifically avoided by creating a constitutional republic.

“This bill is a terrible idea and threatens to destroy our republic,” Faulkingham said.

Rep. David Boyer, R-Poland, said the Electoral College gives Maine voters twice the impact as the popular vote, since Maine only has 0.4% of the nation’s population, but controls 0.75% of the Electoral College vote.

Use of the Electoral College has come under increased criticism after two of the last four U.S. presidents were elected without winning the national popular vote. The system came under increased scrutiny in 2020, as Donald Trump and his allies sought to game the system by having Congress challenge voting results from certain states to tip the electoral vote to Trump.

Those efforts failed, but the events caused many to rethink the use of the Electoral College.


The members of the compact now control 205 electoral votes, according to the National Popular Vote, a national nonprofit pushing state-level bills. The compact will only take effect if the coalition gets the 270 electoral votes needed to elect a president.

The bill came out of the Veteran’s and Legal Affairs Committee with three recommendations. The five committee Republicans recommended it not pass, while Democrats were divided over whether to send the proposals to voters for statewide approval.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sens. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, and Stacey Brenner, D-Scarborough, have endorsed sending the proposal to a statewide referendum.

If enacted, the compact would not take effect for the 2024 election, according to testimony at a public hearing last month.

Gov. Janet Mills has not yet weighed in on the proposal.

Joining Republicans in voting against the bill in the House were Democratic Reps. Tavis Hasenfus of Readfield, Scott Landry of Farmington, Anne Mastraccio of Sanford, Karen Montell of Gardiner, and independent William Pluecker of Warren.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.