By a 1-vote margin the Maine Senate Tuesday supported a bill that would move the Pine Tree State away from the Electoral College system when it comes to selecting a winning presidential candidate here. In an initial 17-16 vote the Senate approved LD 511, a bill that would allow Maine to join a compact of states in allowing the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states to be elected president. The current system depends on a complicated process, that can vary from state to state and which allows a candidate who may not have received the largest number of votes to be elected president. Lawmakers favoring the bill said it was long overdue and is an attempt at restoring value to the votes of individuals. “This bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes,” said Sen. John Tuttle, D-Sanford. Tuttle said the measure is meant to bolster the the principle of “one man, one vote.”
Tuttle, the Senate chair of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, also said there was no opposition to the bill during public hearing before the committee.
Sen. Richard Woodbury, a Yarmouth independent, said every time he watches the Electoral College system in action he comes back to the same conclusion. “I am all the more convinced, that right now in our American democracy the person who gets the most votes is the person who should be elected president,” Woodbury said.
But opponents to the measure including state Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, called the measure an “end run” on the Constitution. “If we would like to change the way we elect our president there is a way to do that,” Mason said. He said the U.S. Congress could change the presidential election system or it could be achieved through a so-called Article Five Convention where two-thirds of the state legislatures vote to amend or clarify the U.S. Constitution.