KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 form the M-channels that are important in regulating neuronal excitability. Inherited mutations that alter voltage-dependent gating of M-channels are associated with neonatal epilepsy. In the homolog KCNQ1 channel, two steps of voltage sensor activation lead to two functionally distinct open states, the intermediate-open (IO) and activated-open (AO), which define the gating, physiological, and pharmacological properties of KCNQ1. However, whether the M-channel shares the same mechanism is unclear. Here, we show that KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 feature only a single conductive AO state but with a conserved mechanism for the electro-mechanical (E-M) coupling between voltage sensor activation and pore opening. We identified some epilepsy-linked mutations in KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 that disrupt E-M coupling. The antiepileptic drug retigabine rescued KCNQ3 currents that were abolished by a mutation disrupting E-M coupling, suggesting that modulating the E-M coupling in KCNQ channels presents a potential strategy for antiepileptic therapy.