Maine Joins Compact to Bypass Electoral College

Effort doesn't have enough states participating to take effect yet
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 15, 2024 5:50 PM CDT
Maine Signs On to Elect Presidents by Popular Vote
Maine Gov. Janet Mills delivers her State of the State address on Jan. 30 in Augusta.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Maine will become the latest to join a multistate effort to elect the president by popular vote with the Democratic governor's announcement Monday that she's letting the proposal become law without her signature. Under the proposed compact, each state would allocate all its electoral votes to whoever wins the national popular vote for president, regardless of how individual states voted in an election. But the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is on hold for now—and won't play a role in the upcoming November election, the AP reports.

Gov. Janet Mills said she understands there are different facets to the debate. Opponents point out that the role of small states like Maine could be diminished if the Electoral College ends, while proponents point out that two of the past four presidents have been elected through the Electoral College system despite losing the national popular vote. Without a ranked voting system, Mills said she believes "the person who wins the most votes should become the president. To do otherwise seemingly runs counter to the democratic foundations of our country." The governor said she wants the national debate on the issue to continue.

The compact would take effect only if supporters secure pledges of states with at least 270 electoral votes. Sixteen states and Washington, DC, have joined the compact, and Maine would bring the total to 209, Mills said. Other sticking points include questions whether congressional approval is necessary to implement the compact, per the AP. In Maine, one of only two states to split their electoral votes under the current system, the legislative debate fell along partisan lines, with Republicans united in opposition.

(More electoral college stories.)

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