The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would commit Maine to join other states to ensure U.S. presidents are chosen based on the national popular vote and not the Electoral College.

If Gov. Janet Mills signs it and enough states join to activate the plan, Maine’s four electoral votes for president would be given to the winner of the national popular vote, even if that result contradicts what a majority of Mainers want.

Mills has not weighed in and now has 10 days to decide whether to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.

While the proposal generated heated debate in the House of Representatives before being approved by a single vote Tuesday, the measure sailed through the Senate on Wednesday with an 18-12 vote.

Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, was the only person to speak against having Maine join a coalition of states seeking to circumvent the Electoral College and elect a president based on the national popular vote.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would only take effect if the coalition secures pledges for at least 270 electoral votes – the threshold needed to elect a president. So far, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have signed the compact, committing 205 electoral votes.


Republicans say the proposal is unconstitutional and would essentially outsource Maine’s relatively small influence in the presidential election to states with large cities, such as New York and California, effectively silencing the voices of rural voters. They said Maine’s system of allocating electoral votes by providing two votes to the statewide winner and one each to the winner of each congressional district should be followed by other states.

In the last two presidential contests, Donald Trump won one electoral vote from the 2nd Congressional District, while Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton won the other three in 2020 and 2016, respectively.

“We’re about to sign away Maine’s voice in the service of partisan and special agendas,” Brakey said.

Proponents, however, argued that presidential campaigns have increasingly focused on only a handful of swing states whose electoral votes can tip a presidential election. They say that the presidency is a uniquely national office and should be decided by whomever wins the national popular vote.

Two of the last four U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, won office despite losing the national popular vote. Hillary Clinton earned about 2.9 million more votes than Trump in 2016. Al Gore collected 540,000 more votes nationally than Bush in 2000.

Mills’ aides said the governor has not yet decided if she will sign the bill or not.

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