If Nebraska Republicans revise their state’s method of awarding presidential electors to help Donald Trump in November, Maine might match the change to boost President Joe Biden’s reelection prospects.

Maureen Terry Submitted photo

Nebraska’s governor, Jim Pillen, has said he’s open to calling a special legislative session to push through the change, but only if he’s sure it will pass. It isn’t clear whether the idea has enough support.

But Democrats are concerned.

“If Nebraska’s Republican Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature were to change their electoral system this late in the cycle in order to unfairly award Donald Trump an additional electoral vote, I think the Maine Legislature would be compelled to act in order to restore fairness to our country’s electoral system,” state House Majority Leader Maureen Terry, a Gorham Democrat, said in a prepared statement Friday.

Both states award two electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the statewide tally and then allocate one for each congressional district, awarded to the contender who wins that district.

In practical terms, Maine typically votes for the Democratic presidential hopeful while Nebraska votes for the GOP’s nominee. But each state has one congressional district that the majority can’t count on.

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In Nebraska in 2020, Biden got one electoral vote while Trump picked up one in Maine by winning its 2nd Congressional District.

Nebraska’s Republican leadership is pushing for the state to change its system this year to give all of its electoral votes to the statewide winner, the way it’s done in 48 states.

Maine, the only other state with a process like Nebraska’s, has awarded electoral votes by congressional district since 1972. Not until 2016, when Trump first won the 2nd District, had the winners in each district been different in the Pine Tree State.

Maine hasn’t had any serious effort to revise its longstanding system despite Democratic control of the governorship and Legislature since the 2018 election.

But Nebraska is still weighing whether to rush through a revision this year to give Trump an extra electoral vote, which could make the difference in some Election Day scenarios.

Terry said that Nebraska should not try it.

“Voters in Maine and voters in Maine’s 2nd congressional district value their independence, but they also value fairness and playing by the rules,” Terry said.

“It is my hope and the hope of my colleagues in Maine that the Nebraska Republican Party decides not to make this desperate and ill-fated attempt to sway the 2024 election.”

Maine has agreed to award its four electoral votes to the nationwide popular vote winner if enough other states also agree to do so. So far, the national compact does not have enough backing to take effect.

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