AUGUSTA – You’ve heard the phrase before, “the race to 270.” But what if Maine did away with the Electoral College?
Two nearly identical bills at the state level propose to enter an interstate compact that would elect the president by national popular vote, instead of the Electoral College.
One of those bills is sponsored by the senate president.
“Many people throughout my time in the legislature was [sic] dismayed that they didn’t feel their vote counted,” said Senate President Troy Jackson (D – Allagash). “There wasn’t really any reason to go and vote if the Electoral College could go and flip what they had actually just voted for.”
Even if lawmakers pass that legislation, the interstate compact takes effect only when enough states join to contribute a majority of 270 votes.
About a dozen states have already adopted the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Currently, Maine and New Hampshire are the only New England states that have not adopted it.
Right now, Maine does things differently than most states, splitting up its four electoral votes by state geography.
In the 2016 presidential election, Maine gave one of its votes to Donald Trump and three to Hillary Clinton.
If that election had gone by the national popular vote, Maine would have given its four votes to Clinton, who got the most votes nationally.
Some Republicans feel that system gives an advantage to urban areas, or places with the most people.
“The Electoral College has worked for over two hundred years,” said Rep. John Andrews (R – Paris). ” I think it would give away our votes to New York City because that’s the largest population center on the East Coast. You know, it wouldn’t be as Maine goes anymore, it would be as New York City goes.”
Those against the bills also said they’re concerned about lobbyists coming into Maine to back the popular vote.
“Maine people want a voice, we shouldn’t be listening to people from out of state entities,” said Sen. Scott Cyrway (R – Benton).
Those for the bills said the Electoral College puts candidates’ attention on a small number of battle ground states, and that they’ve heard from constituents who believe their vote doesn’t count. Going back to the 2016 election, under the Electoral College system, anyone who voted red in Portland still had that congressional district’s electoral vote go blue.
“Every single person’s vote should count equally,” said Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D – Ellsworth). “Regardless of what state they’re from. If they live in a rural area or they live in a city, it’s one American, one vote.”