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Department of the Secretary of State

Home > Upcoming Elections > Electoral College Information

General Election
November 4, 2008

Electoral College Information for Maine

When voters go to the polls on election day, they cast a ballot for their Presidential and Vice Presidential choice. This is called the "popular vote". The popular vote is used to choose "electors" -- these are the people who are chosen to cast votes for President and Vice President of the United States. The "Electoral College" occurs when electors in each state meet to cast their respective "electoral votes" for President and Vice President. In other words, voters choose the electors, and the electors choose the President.

Each state gets votes in the electoral college. The number of votes allotted to each state is determined by adding up all the members of the United States Congress who are elected from that state. For example, Maine has two U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives, for a total of four members of Congress. Because Maine has four members of Congress, the state also gets four electoral college votes. Political parties and nonparty candidates choose their own electors in Maine. Political parties choose their electors at a state convention. Nonparty candidates name their electors when they submit the signatures they must collect to get on the ballot. Each party or candidate must name four electors, which is the most a candidate could win here. In each group of four electors, one must be from the First Congressional District, one must be from the Second Congressional District and two must be chosen at-large. The names of all the electors are submitted to the Secretary of State.

After the popular vote is cast November 4, 2008, the electors will meet to cast their votes for President. The candidate who wins the most popular votes in the First Congressional District wins one elector. The candidate with the most popular votes in the Second Congressional District wins one elector. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide wins the two at-large electors. This is different from most states, where the candidate who wins the most votes statewide wins all the electors in that state. In Maine, it is possible for candidates to split the electoral votes. In Maine, the presidential electors who are chosen as a result of the November 4th general election will meet at 2 p.m. December 15, 2008, (which is the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December) in the chamber of the Maine House of Representatives. At that time, they will cast their electoral college votes for President and Vice President of the United States. A separate ballot is used to cast a vote for each office.

The Electoral College was written into the United State Constitution in 1787 and was designed to balance the states' and the people's interests. The Electoral College was established before the emergence of national political parties.