Imagine it is election season again and time for Maine people to cast their votes for U.S. president. The race is down to two contenders: Martin B. Urban and Sarah R. Town.

During the campaign, candidate Town has made several visits to Maine, appealing to Mainers with a message to support opportunity for rural, working people. Meanwhile, candidate Urban has ignored people in small states such as Maine, concentrating all his efforts on population centers — New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Eric Brakey

On Election Day, Maine people come out in droves to vote for Sarah Town, who wins a landslide 60 percent of the statewide vote. As a result, Maine’s four electoral votes are cast for… Martin Urban.

How could that happen? How could Maine’s electoral votes for U.S. president be cast for the candidate Mainers rejected?

Under new legislation by Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson, which seeks to bind Maine’s electoral votes to the so-called “National Popular Vote,” it wouldn’t matter how Maine people vote. Big urban centers such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles would have more say on how Maine’s votes are cast than Maine people would.

That power grab for big cities is an attempted end-run around the U.S. Constitution to invalidate the Electoral College.

There are many misconceptions about the Electoral College and how it functions, but one thing is certain: it benefits Maine people. The Electoral College was designed so small states such as Maine (not only large population states), would have a real voice in the election of U.S. presidents. The math is so simple that even politicians should be able to understand.

Maine has 1.3 million of the 325.1 million national population: 0.4 percent of the total population. Meanwhile, Maine has four of the nation’s 538 Electoral College votes: 0.74 percent of the total vote. Under the current Electoral College system, Maine’s impact as a state is nearly double what it would be under a National Popular Vote.

Because of the Electoral College system, presidential candidates work to earn Mainers’ support, as Donald Trump did in 2016 when he made a campaign stop in Lisbon. But under an NPV system, presidential candidates would have to spend all their time and resources in the urban population centers of America in order to win. Maine would be left behind.

Advocates for NPV argue it is unfair that votes as individual Maine people count more than the individual votes of people in large states such as New York and California. They tell us that, for the sake of fairness, Mainers should surrender their voting power.

By that logic, Maine shouldn’t have two U.S. senators either. Maine has four percent of the vote in the U.S. Senate, despite only having 0.4 percent of the national population. Maine senators’ votes are 10 times more powerful than they would be if we only measure population. Out of a sense of fairness, NPV advocates such as Senate President Jackson must believe Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King should come home and leave Maine unrepresented in Washington, D.C.

But none of the constitutional designs are by accident. Americans are not 325 million undifferentiated individuals living under a single national government. We are Mainers, Californians, Texans and Floridians; and the United States of America is a union of societies, composed of different peoples with varied interests, living under a decentralized, federal government.

The current system is not perfect, but it was established so small states such as Maine would have a voice in the federal government. For a large and diverse country, it is an incredible system that favors candidates who appeal to diverse interests and not only to big population centers.

It would be a tragic mistake and a betrayal of the Maine people for Troy Jackson and the Maine Legislature to surrender Mainers’ voting power to big cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Maine people deserve better. Maine people deserve a real voice in the federal government.

Eric Brakey is a former two-term state Senator from Androscoggin County and 2018 Maine Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. He currently serves as the founder of the Free Maine Campaign, a grassroots political organization working to protect the freedoms and paychecks of Maine people.


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