Maine and Nebraska both use an alternative method of distributing their electoral votes, called the Congressional District Method. Currently, these two states are the only two in the union that diverge from the traditional winner-take-all method of electoral vote allocation.
Since electors are awarded to each state based on the number of House seats plus the number of Senate seats (always two), the congressional district method allocated one electoral vote to each congressional district. The winner of each district is awarded one electoral vote, and the winner of the state-wide vote is then awarded the state's remaining two electoral votes.
This method has been used in Maine since 1972 and Nebraska since 1996, though since both states have adopted this modification, the statewide winners have swept all of the state's districts in every election except 2008 and 2016. In 2008, Nebraska gave four of its electoral votes to John McCain, but Barack Obama won a single electoral vote from Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. In 2016, Maine gave three of its electoral votes to Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump won a single electoral vote in Maine's 2nd congressional district.
Some have argued for expanding this system to address the problems inherent in the use of the winner-take-all electoral college method. However, if expanded to all 50 states, the Congressional District Method would make the presidential election even less competitive, and it would increase the likelihood of a candidate winning the election without winning a majority of the national popular vote. We analyze the system, along with the "whole number proportional" system in our 2015 report, Fuzzy Math: Wrong Way Reforms for Allocating Electoral Votes.
Maine Senator John Martin, author of the state's congressional district plan in 1969, endorses the National Popular Vote plan.
See our section on Solutions and the Case for Reform for more information.