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election into the House of Representatives. The Mundt Plan would add the Senate membership and provide each of those sitting in the joint session with one vote. Consequently, the Senate would have a voice in the procedure in the event of a deadlock situation.
Despite these changes, Mr. Chairman, the District Plan still retains the Electoral College system, and I believe this is an especially important factor.
Let me say I have considered the three plans very carefully and I have con. cluded that only one the District Plan incorporated in S.J. Res. 12–has a chance for adoption. The direct voting plan has some features to recommend it. However, I believe it would be impossible to obtain its acceptance in enough states to insure its adoption. I don't believe, Mr. Chairman, that the American people are entirely ready to abolish the electoral college system. Even though it has many obvious faults, the system is deeply rooted in American history and tradition. Many of our citizens regard it as an essential part of the federal sys tem, an attitude referred to some years ago by President Johnson.
I believe it might interest the subcommittee to learn how the electoral votes would have been allocated in 1960 and 1964 under the District Plan and Proportional System.
If the District Plan had been in effect in 1964 and had been based on Congres. sional district lines, President Johnson would have received 466 electoral votes and I would have received 72. This would be an increase of 20 for me over the actual result.
If the District Plan had been in effect in 1960, Richard Nixon would have been elected President with 280 electoral votes to 254 for John Kennedy, with 3 votes going to others. This would represent an increase of 61 votes for Mr. Nixon.
If the Proportional System had been effective in 1964, President Johnson would have received 313 electoral votes to 218 for me and 7 for others. This would have been an increase of 166 votes for my candidacy.
If the Proportional System had been in effect in 1960, John Kennedy would have received 266.136 electoral votes to 263.662 for Richard Nixon and 7.202 for others. The Nixon vote would have increased by 44.662 votes.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. If there are any questions, I shall be happy to try to answer them.
Senator Bays. Our next witness is Representative John Bingham of New York, our colleague from the House.
We appreciate your taking the time to be with us this morning. Congressman Bingham, we know you have given this a great deal of thought. We are anxious to have your thoughts for our record.
STATEMENT OF HON. JONATHAN B. BINGHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE 23D CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Representative BINGHAM. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I have not prepared a lengthy statement for the committee this morning, Mr. Chairman. I did prepare such a statement for the hearings on our side, and I have copies of that for you if you would like to scan them.
Senator BayH. It will appear in the record.
Representative BINGHAM. I thought I would talk from notes. If you would care to have it in the record, Mr. Chairman, I would be more than happy to do so. It was prepared before President Nixon made his suggestions, and therefore, I think the emphasis might be a little different today, and I would like to comment on those proposals among other things.
First of all, I would like to stress the fact that I think we should bear in mind that what we are talking about are close elections. That most of the elections that have taken place in this country would not have been affected one way or the other by the adoption of any of the plans
that have been proposed, and therefore, I think we have to bear in mind that we are talking about elections that are very close.
Some of the reservations let us say that I have about your proposal, Mr. Chairman, for a popular election, have to do with that fact and with the fact of the question of acceptability of the results. I think that one of the miracles that we have in our society in this country, and it really is a miracle as you look around the world, is that close elections are accepted by the losers. This is something that does not happen very often in the world. There are not too many countries where it happens.
When you think about it, that the entire effort let us say that went into the 1960 election on the part of the Republican Party and the Republican candidates at that time was totally lost, so to speak, on the basis of a very, very narrow margin, and yet nobody raised a question about it. Everybody accepted it. This is something that is terribly important for the stability of our country, and something that we do not want to tamper with. We want to be awfully sure of our ground before we make changes that might interfere with that acceptability.
The next point I would like to make is that while we have a tremendous amount of controversy in this area, everyone is agreed on the two principal defects in the present system. I do not think there is any quarrel about that. One defect is the problem of the faithless elector, the man who is elected to do one thing and does another.
The other defect is the danger of having the presidential election go into the House on the one-State one-vote basis, which I think nobody defends today. All kinds of crazy results could occur, deadlock, and I think everyone is agreed that that is a bad system.
So, basically, my position is that we should concentrate on getting rid of those two defects, and do so in the simplest possible way, and the speediest possible way, and I think to achieve that we would probably be well advised to set aside the question of changing the method of counting the votes, and defer that for later full debate and discussion, because I can see our getting all involved in these controversial questions as between direct popular election, the district system, the proportional system, and in the end getting nothing through.
My basic position is that we should move on some relatively simple basis to correct those two agreed defects, and then proceed to debate and act on at some future time the question of the method of counting votes.
Now I would like to make some comments on the proposals for the district plan and the proportional plan, which have apparently achieved considerable support in testimony before your subcommittee, Mr. Chairman, and also in the House, and of course have been given particular attention because of the support in principal by the President of the United States.
The first thing that strikes me about these two plans, as an alternatire to the present plan, the present system gives let us say some extra attention to the large States, particularly large States where the vote is close and going on an all-or-nothing principle. The mathematician ran point out that the voter in my State of New York can have a greater impact on the outcome of the election than the voter in some other State.
Mr. Bayh. I wish that you had had a chance to make that remark in front of several of our witnesses. This whole business of who has the most influence under our present system, I think, has been grossly oversimplified to the place that in my judgment those that are arguing-excuse me for interrupting but I think this is a particularly compelling point, and it has been made several times before this committee, it has not been made by the two previous witnesses this morning that argued the other way around, that under the present system the small States have an advantage, and that they are not going to give up this advantage to go to a popular-vote system. You apparently feel that, under the unit rule, the large States have the advantage and thus they are less likely to go to one of the two systems presented by our previous witnesses. Is that a proper interpretation of your remarks? I do not want to misinterpret.
Representative BINGHAM. Well, in a sense it is, Mr. Chairman. I was about to say that under the present system I think the advantage lies with the small States, because of the two additional votes that they get, and with the large States, and there is a bias, in other words, at both ends of the spectrum.
But what you do, if you move to the district or proportional plan, is you take away the bias in favor of the large States, and you leave the bias in favor of the small States, and I do not think that is going to go.
Senator Bayh. You do not think the
Representative BINGHAM. I am not going to vote for anything that will take away the bias in favor of my State and leave it in effect in favor of the small State. Senator Bayh. Without interrupting you at any great length Representative BINGHAM. Yes, go ahead.
Senator Bayh. I am not completely naive about this balancing of the bias, so to speak. Is there any wisdom at all in my feeling that if we are going to have any basic reform, that perhaps we could balance these biases and the small States would give up the advantage they have as represented mathematically, and the large States would give up the bias they have under the unit rule, and thus everyone would be on the same footing without any biases?
Representative BINGHAM. Mr. Chairman, I entirely agree with what you just said. I think if we are going to change the system of counting at this time, we should go to the direct popular election system. I think it is the most fair system, and I have no question that it is superior to either the district plan or the proportional plan.
Senator BayH. But you do not want to get involved in that?
Representative BINGHAM. But I think for the reasons that I expressed before, I think we would be well advised not to get involved in that controversy now, but to do something, and there are various ways of doing it, and I have my plan for doing it, get rid of the obvious defects and then get into this very difficult question of the type of plan, of new plan that you are going to adopt.
Senator Bays. Why don't you proceed and I won't interrupt.
Representative BINGHAM, Could I proceed a little bit on the ques. tion of the district and proportional plan. Senator Goldwater made the point, and I think there is some truth to it, that the popular election plan will encourage splinter parties, but I think both of these other plans will encourage splinter parties too, more so than the pres. ent system.
For example, if you have a district plan, it would be easier for a third party to capture Congressional districts than it is for them to capture a whole State, and if you have the proportional plan, of course the full vote of your third or fourth or fifth party will be counted, and you have to concern yourself I think to some extent with this danger.
This is one of the things which Professor Alexander Bikel of the Yale Law School, I do not know whether he has testified as yet, Mr. Chairman, I assume he will testify here, points out is a danger in the popular election system, but it is just as much of a danger I think in the case of the proportional system, and only slightly less than a danger in the case of the district system.
Now it seems to me, I find it hard to understand, going further on the district plan, how anyone can argue that the district plan should be in effect when clearly in 1960 under the district plan, Mr. Nixon would hare been elected, in spite of the popular vote to the contrary.
I think that is a pretty hard thing to justify. I will admit that my position as far as leaving the present system for the time being is subject to the same objection, that you could have a President elected with a minority vote, or less than the top, but at least I am not saying that we should stay with that system indefinitely. I think that there are certain arguments in favor of it that do not apply to the district system, but to argue that we should go to the district system when we know that it would have produced a result in 1960 contrary to the popular vote is very strange to me.
Now as far as another point on the district plan that seems to me objectionable is this. It would be quite possible, in my State let us say, with 41 Congressional districts, to have a result that would be contrary to the popular vote in the State. That could happen if you have 20 districts let us say which are quite close, but go to candidate X, and the other 21 districts give candidate Y a large margin, and the candidate with the lower number of votes might win the larger number of districts, and would in effect with the electoral, at least a margin of the electoral votes in that State.
Mr. Chairman, I was pleased to see that a very distinguished citi. zen of the State of New York, a former National Chairman of the ADA, and a former ambassador, has taken substantially the same position that I have taken in this matter as far as the strategy is concerned, and that is Mr. James Loeb, the publisher of The Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and I would like to submit his letter for the record if that is agreeable, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Bayu. We will be glad to have it. Without objection.
FOR ELECTORAL REFORM
SARANAC LAKE, N.Y., February 24, 1969. To the Editor:
As your excellent editorial of Feb. 22 suggests, President Nixon's recommendations for electoral reform confirm the worst fears of those of us who have long adrocated reform, namely, that the rising demand for change will be used to effect an electoral system far worse than the dangerously inadequate system we now have.
The President's recommendations are retrogressive in the following respects :
The allocation of the electoral votes of each state on a proportional basis to "more closely aproximate the popular vote" constitutes a clear effort to minimize the voting strength of the urban centers and the state in which they are located.
The allocation of electoral votes as suggested by the President would under mine our two-party system, since a plethora of minor parties would reduce the possibility of any candidate receiving a majority, or even 40 per cent, of the electoral votes. At present, minor parties receive electoral votes only when they gain a plurality in one or more states, as in the case of George Wallace in 1968.
The suggestion that the direct election of the President and Vice President be used only in run-off elections would employ that system only in close elections where the direct election would be confronted with its most serious problem, namely, a possible recount of some eighty million votes in a very close election.
If the President cannot find the courage to support Senator Birch Bayh's proposal for a direct election of our two highest national officers, then the simplest reform would be to eliminate the Electoral College and the electors; to maintain the present system of allocating the electoral votes of the several states, and to provide for a run-off election, using the same system in the event that no candidate receives 40 per cent of the electoral votes.
In general, this relatively simple alternative has been proposed by Representative Jonathan Bingham of New York.
JAMES I. LOEB. Representative BINGHAM. That is all I have in the way of comments, Mr. Chairman, and I would be glad to answer any questions.
Senator Bayh. Let me just ask some other question other than the thrust of my question for which I interrupted your testimony. The acceptability of the election system I think is critical. This is critical, that the people actually accept whatever system is used. I just would like to ask you to think just a moment about the acceptability of the present system, in which as I recall it, and I am sure you are as aware of this as I, that the present President had about a half million or a 500,000vote margin. How acceptable would the present outcome have been if the change of a few popular votes had made it possible for Mr. Humphrey to win the electoral vote?
And then let me remind you of the 1948 election, where we had a four-party election. Mr. Truman, then the sitting President, won a 2-million-vote plurality. Had there been a change of less than 30,000 votes in the right three States, Governor Dewey would have been the President of the United States despite that 2-million-vote plurality. Now it is that problem, illustrated by those two examples, not hypothetical but really looking at the votes as they were, that concerns me about the acceptability of the present system.
Representative BINGHAM. It concerns me, too, Mr. Chairman, and I think it is a very real problem. It is a problem that has occurred only very rarely in our history, but it is theoretically possible. There is no question about it.
I would say this, however; that I am not as concerned about it perhaps as some others, for this reason—that if this happened, the winner will have won a collection of majorities in more areas than the loser. The loser will have won a national majority of a few tens of thousands of votes, but the winner, because of the way the system works, will have won a majority in more areas, and I think that there is something to be said for that.
You could conceive of a situation, as we all have to dredge up, you know, the nightmares of any possible situation, you can conceive of a situation, for example, where one candidate had a large majority in one section of the country, let us just say in the Deep South, for instance, and the other candidate won a narrow majority in all other