Maine inched closer Tuesday toward joining other states that want to elect presidents by popular vote. The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 19-16 to join an interstate compact that overhauls the Electoral College system currently used to elect U.S. presidents.
States in the compact agree to distribute their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide even if another candidate carries that state.
Saco Democratic Sen. Justin Chenette says the bill would prevent repeats of the 2016 and 2000 elections in which Donald Trump and George W. Bush were elected despite losing the national popular vote.
"There were two elections in my lifetime where a president was decided by a process overruling the will of the voters," he said.
But assistant Republican leader Sen. Jeff Timberlake, of Turner, said the bill subverts the U.S. Constitution and the system in use since the country's founding.
"If you want to vote to circumvent the U.S. Constitution, then go right ahead," Timberlake said. "But I was elected to protect the U.S. Constitution and that's what I will do."
About a dozen states have signed onto the National Popular Vote compact.
States in the compact don't use the popular vote method until it's large enough to represent 270 electoral votes.
The bill now moves to the House for further action.