The Maine Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would pledge the state’s Electoral College votes for president to the candidate who wins the popular vote across the country.
If the House and Governor pass and sign the bill, Maine will becomes the fourteenth state, in addition to Washington, DC, to join the National Popular Vote interstate compact. This is an agreement among the 14 states to give their electoral College votes to the popular vote winner.
Maine currently is the only state other than Nebraska to split its electoral votes between the two candidates rather than employing the winner-takes-all approach of most other states.
In the Electoral College system as it exists, voters cast their ballots for electors in their state instead of directly for the president. Because most states give all of their electoral votes to the majority winner within their state, large minorities of voters in these states effectively have their votes neutralized in the process.
This is how President Donald Trump was able to secure the electoral majority despite losing the popular vote to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes. Five presidential elections so far have been won by a candidate who lost the popular vote.
Former Maine Governor Paul LePage said earlier this year if such a bill, or by extension a broader popular vote scheme were to pass, “white people [would] not have anything to say” and “It’s only going to be the minorities that would elect. It would be California, Texas, Florida.”
Other opponents of a popular vote scheme prefer to frame the issue in terms of “rural” and “urban” states, whose voting power should be balanced against one another according to land mass rather than population in order to protect their unique interests.
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren already indicated, during a CNN town hall in March, that she supported doing away with the Electoral College: “My view is that every vote matters, and the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College”.