Gov. Mills cowardly lets NPV become law without her signature


On April 15, Maine Gov. Janet Mills issued a press release notifying the public that she allowed LD 1578, a bill that would enter Maine into the National Popular Vote compact, to become law without her signature. Instead of taking a hard stance to sign or veto the bill, the governor is trying to carve a “middle ground” by allowing it to become law without her endorsement. Yet the bill is now law of the land in Maine, and if enough other states sign onto the compact, our nation would select its president by means of an unconstitutional national popular vote.

Gov. Mills’ full statement on the bill is outlined below:

“I have spent the past ten days carefully considering this bill, reviewing arguments both for and against it, considering written materials and listening to people from across Maine.

“Opponents have raised legitimate questions about whether presidential candidates would want to visit Maine knowing that, under a winner-take-all system, their chance to win our electoral votes declines and, as a result, their time would be better spent elsewhere. Proponents have pointed out that two of the last four presidents were elevated to the highest office in the land despite having the support of fewer Americans than their opponent and in four presidential elections since 1876, the winner lost the popular vote.

“Some argue that this measure would dilute the influence of rural voters, although this measure ultimately would provide that each vote carries equal weight, whether the voter is a rural, urban or suburban resident, and thus create greater equity among voters. I see merit to arguments on both sides. I am also aware that enacting this measure is not irreversible and that it will not take effect until a number of other states with at least 61 cumulative electoral votes also approve the measure, and that it will have no effect on this year’s Presidential election.

“While I recognize concerns about presidential candidates spending less time in Maine, it is also quite possible that candidates will spend more time in every state when every vote counts equally, and I struggle to reconcile the fact that a candidate who has fewer actual votes than their opponent can still become President of the United States. Absent a ranked choice voting circumstance, it seems to me that the person who wins the most votes should become the President. To do otherwise seemingly runs counter to the democratic foundations of our country.

“Still recognizing that there is merit to both sides of the argument, and recognizing that this measure has been the subject of public discussion several times before in Maine, I would like this important nationwide debate to continue and so I will allow this bill to become law without my signature.”

–Governor Janet Mills, April 15, 2024

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Mills’ statement is that she does not address the core legal concerns with the NPV compact and instead leads with acknowledgements of opponents’ arguments associated with the level of attention Maine voters may receive from presidential candidates under a nationalized election system.

While it’s true Maine voters would be unlikely to see a presidential candidate ever again under NPV–and that the system itself does mathematically dilute our voice–more important is the electoral chaos that will ensue if the compact is successful in garnering participation from enough states to equal 270 electoral votes.

How is a recount conducted under a national popular vote scheme? How do you contest ballots? What about the fact that voting procedures are different in all 50 states? How would you sort through all of these legal and constitutional questions in the event of a close contest?

If the NPV compact is successful, what Americans witnessed after the 2000 Bush vs. Gore election and the 2020 Trump vs. Biden election will be a drop in the bucket compared to the national- and state-level lawsuits we’ll see. Americans won’t know for months who the true president is and whether the NPV compact can actually be used as an end-around of the constitution to change the way we select our nation’s president.

Equally frustrating is the fact that the bill barely passed the House, and only did because a pair of Democratic opponents to LD 1578, who opposed it in previous floor votes, seemingly took a walk on the enactment vote. Had Rep. Scott Landry of Farmington (Gov. Mills’ hometown, by the way) and Rep. Jessica Fay of Raymond participated, the bill would have been defeated rather than passed by a single vote.

The only silver lining here is that there aren’t enough states participating in the compact for it to take effect for the next presidential election, and that this action is not irreversible. You can bet Maine Policy will be working hard to undo LD 1578 in the First Session of the 132nd Maine Legislature in January 2025.