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We ask: Who are you?—and where are we going—and more importantly, we ask why.
I suggest to the Congress of the United States and all charged with governing this Nation that our generation will no longer accept as right that which merely exists. We can no longer adhere to ox-cart standards in a space age. We will not accept promises of equity while being served inequity. There is no way to separate the matter which is before this committee today and the other frustrations that young adults sense with respect to their Government.
We are asked to bear arms and yet we are denied the right to vote for those who determine whether there be war. We are asked to represent this Nation in all parts of the world and yet cannot explain why, in this fortress of democracy, those at a certain age cannot vote while in many other countires 18-year-olds are franchised.
We are asked to explain our way of life and yet are saddled with the indefensible, archiac electoral system which has three times denied the people of this country the President of their choice.
During the past several weeks I've had an opportunity to visit with students on campuses throughout the Nation. I've also met with veterans and young people who are married and employed and struggling. Their plea is a universal one.
I suggest this committee has a unique opportunity to take the first and perhaps the most significant step in answering that plea. That answer must be a total commitment by you—by our Government, to that which is obviously already the will of the people people of all ages.
The electoral college system is inconsistent with the goals, the ideals, the very dogma of democracy. You must allow citizens of all ages to achieve the dignity of meaningful voting; next you must expand the franchise to include 12 million young Americans, young men and women, who are otherwise treated and are acting as adults.
I genuinely believe that the generation gap, which is a reality, can be closed and experience with time-tested talent may be merged with the vigor and enthusiasm of youth for the reunification of our Nation.
I remind you of the message of your late colleague, Robert Kennedy, who stated at Berkeley, Calif., that if you wish to retain the right to demand to be heard you must first be willing to listen and to have your thoughts measured in the marketplace of free ideas.
Yes, young people today are demanding to be heard, hut young people, too, are willing to listen. But, what can we learn and what can we gain from listening to just what we want to hear? Those who oppose expansion of the franchise—those who resist electoral college reform must come forward to the campuses of America—to the veterans' meetings, to the union halls, and, yets, even to the high schools to debate the issues—to show both sides of the topic so that Americans of every age can make their own decision.
I reiterate my appreciation for this unique opportunity which I humbly will cherish as the most memorable incident of my youth. I ask that for the millions who cannot appear before you, the committee offer an even more memorable and precious gift—the right to the dignity of citizenship. The political ostrich hides its head but the problems still remain.
It would be repetitious on my part if I were to go through many of the arguments that have already been advanced for the electoral college reform. Later on in my testimony I submit my own specific analysis of the particular type of proposals that are advocated, and I present as a predicate for the following recommendation which represents, I think, the views of the majority of young students across the country.
First, I suggest that this committee recommend to the Senate of the United States the approval of the chairman's proposal which would provide a direct vote for the Presidency of the United States and direct democracy.
Second, I suggest that future hearings of this specific committee should be brought to the campuses throughout the United States; that they should be brought to the young people, those people who have the most to gain, and the most to lose, from our political system; that the hearings should be brought to the young people so they can tell it as it is.
And, third, I suggest that the opposition to the electoral college reform and to the enlargement of the franchise come down from off Capitol Hill, come off of the prestigious mountain to where the people are, to where the young people are, so that we can debate, we can talk, and we can have communication.
Thank you very much.
(The complete prepared statement of Mr. Warren, above referred to, follows:)
STATEMENT BY DENNIS WARREN, UNIVERSITY OF THE PACIFIC, STOCKTON, CALIF.,
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, L.U.V. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments, I'm sure it is unnecessary to relate the pattern of recent events that have demonstrated to this nation and the world the frustration, concern and confusion that has become rampant among our youth and jeopardizes all efforts to narrow the communication gap that exists between young adults and their predecessors. Suffice to say that the President and others have found it necessary to note that we are more advanced in our scientific endeavors than in our development of spirit; closer to the moon than to moral rapport on earth.
Psychologists, sociologists, educators, and political leaders agree that young adults today are confused by the values offered to them by the ruling generation. They are impatient and intolerant of being labelled as going through "preparation for life" for they are living; they are dying in the uniform of their country; they are marrying; they are paying taxes; they are becoming the most highly educated and best trained generation this nation has ever known; they are getting involved in a variety of government and private projects in every facet of industry and throughout the world and they are genuinely concerned with social and moral ralues. Despite all of the things they are doing, it is still necessary for them to continually say, and occasionally shout, either vocally or by dress or by action"Listen to me, I have something to say. I care."
My generation is as concerned as any previous one with learning the tools of a trade, preparing to make a successful living and insuring economic survival but as a result of better education, travel, scientific advances and rapid communication, we are asking poignant and piercing questions that must be answered. We ask: Who Are We?—and Where Are We Going?-and Why?
I suggest to the Congress of the United States and all charged with governing this nation that our generation will no longer accept as right that which merely exists. We cannot adhere to ox-cart standards in a space age. We will not accept promises of equity and be served inequity. There is no way to separate the matter which is before this Committee today and the other frustrations that young adults sense with respect to the government.
We are asked to bear arms and yet we are denied the right to vote for those who determine whether there be war. We are asked to represent this nation in all parts of the world and yet cannot explain why, in this fortress of democracy, those at a certain age cannot vote while in many other countries 18 year-olds are franchised. We're asked to explain our way of life and yet are saddled with the indefensible, archaic electoral system which has three times denied the people of this country the President of their choice.
During the past several weeks I've had an opportunity to visit with students on compuses throughout the nation. I've also met with veterans and young people who are married and employed and struggling. Their plea is universal.
I suggest this Committee has a unique opportunity to take the first and perhaps the most significant step in answering that plea. That answer must be a total commitment by you-by our government to that which is obviously already the will of the people people of all ages.
The Electoral College system is inconsistent with the goals, the ideals, the very dogma of democracy. You must allow citizens of all ages to achieve the dignity of meaningful voting; next you must expand the franchise to include twelve million young men and women who are otherwise treated and acting as adults.
I genuinely believe that the generation gap, which is a reality, can be closed and experience with time-tested talent may be merged with the vigor and enthusiasm of youth for the reunification of our nation.
I remind you of the message of your late colleague, Robert Kennedy, who stated at Berkeley, California, that if you wish to retain the right to demand to be heard-you must first be willing to listen and to have your thoughts measured in the marketplace of free ideas. Young people demand to be heard but young people, too, are willing to listen, But, what can we learn and what can we gain from listening to just what we want to hear? Those who oppose expansion of the franchise those who resist Electoral College reform must come forward to the campuses of America-to the veteran's meetings, to the union halls, and, yes, even to the high schools to debate the issues—to show both sides so that Americans of every age can make their decision.
I reiterate my appreciation for this unique opportunity which I humbly will cherish as the most memorable incident of my youth. I ask that for the millions who cannot appear before you, the Committee offer an even more memorable and precious gift—the right to the dignity of citizenship. The political ostrich hides its head but the problems still remain.
After the frustration and apprehension over the possibility of another election crisis this past year, the only conclusion that one can justifiably reach is that a system of direct popular election of the President and Vice-President of the United States is the most equitable means by which the Electoral College may be reformed and the most consistent with the democratic principles of our nation.
Certain historical events during recent years have brought to light the severe difficulties which rest in the fundamental structure of our present procedure for electing the President. The system's pitfalls range from the fact that a man may be elected to the Presidency with less votes than his opponent to the fact that the present system of election works against the voter who is a member of the minority party in his state. While a large number of proposals have been introduced for the consideration by the Congress through the years, they may be generally classified as of four different types :
1. Proposals for a proportional division of electors;
4. Proposals to establish a system whereby the President would be elected by a direct popular vote of the people. First, the proportional system is incapable of preventing the election of a candidate who is elected to office without a majority of the popular vote. In the 1960 election, for example, Richard Nixon would have defeated John Kennedy for the Presidency if the proportional system would have been in use, despite the fact that Kennedy had actually defeated Nixon by over 100,000 votes. Several other historical examples may be cited as Handcock would have defeated Garfield in 1880 although Garfield received the greater number of popular votes. William Jennings Bryant would have defeated McKinley in 1896, even though McKinley received 50.9% of the popular votea majority.
Secondly, the proportional system would shift the emphasis of the political campaign to states with one dominant political party. The Honorable Chairman of your Committee spoke of just such a problem in his presentation to the Com. mittee during last year's hearing on electoral reform:
"In the proportional system the key factor becomes the margin of victory in each State. In 1948, for instance, President Truman carried Georgia by enough popular votes to lead Governor Dewey there by five electoral votes, had a proportional plan been in effect. Dewey carried New York, New Jersey, Pennsyl. vania, Michigan, Indiana, and Connecticut—those six states put together would not have enabled Dewey to offset Truman's lead of five electoral votes that he would have picked up in Georgia alone. ... The big states would no longer have a big voice because the margins of victory they produced would be smaller than that of the traditional one-party state.”
Thirdly, the proportional system would give a high degree of disproportionate yoting weight to some voters. While votes would be proportionally redistributed on the basis of a state's popular vote, the state as a whole would retain its original number of electors shifting proportional voting weight. John F. Banzhaf, leading meinber of the New York and District of Columbia Bars, pointed to this problem before the Committee last year with his mathematical analysis that demonstrates that under the proportional system the vote of a citizen in Alaska would count five times as much as the same vote cast by a citizen in either California or New York,
The proportional type of proposal, then, is unpractical as well as an unrealistic alternative.
Another means by which election reform could be instituted would be by the adoption of a proposal to apportion electors by districts. Theoretically it gives representation to the minority vote, it eliminates the renegade electors and a contingent election of Congress may be used if necessary which would be more equitable than the present election process. The system, however, has serious difficulties in its workability.
As in the proportional system, the district plan cannot guarantee the prevention of a President being elected with less votes than his opponent receives. Under the district system, John Kennedy would have lost by a margin of 25 district votes while under the present election means he won by 84 electoral votes.
Also, the district system opens the way for serious gerrymandering problems. To quote your report from last year's hearings:
"Special Presidential districts could be drawn every four years. Sooner or later, no matter how sincere the motives of the framers of this proposal may be, legislatures throughout the land would be drawing districts to favor not only Congressional candidates in their own states, but to favor the national standard bearer of the party in power in each of those States."
Third, the district system denies the minority vote within given districts. A situation in 1964 in Illinois is exemplary. President Johnson won one Illinois district by 140,000 votes while Senator Goldwater won another district by less than 80 rotes. Despite the dramatic difference in defeat in the respective districts, both men received one electoral vote denying the relative influence of the minority vote in those two respective districts.
Fourth, the system would give disproportionate weight to some voters. A problem of distribution of the voting power would result in that 168,014,360 in 34 separate states would have less than average voting power. This group of voters, interestingly enough, represents over 93% of the population!
A third means by which election reforms could be initiated would be by unit proposals. While the program eliminates the danger of renegade electors and provides for a more equitable contingent election, it still retains all of the other ills of the present system. It not only freezes the unit rule into the Constitution but other proposals can solve this problem much more effectively and with more advantages to the country.
The fourth means of electoral reform would be the establishment of a presiden. tial election by a direct popular vote. This means of election is by far the most equitable of the proposed election procedures and is most consistent with the democratic principles of our nation. It has immedate and extremely significant advantages to the country as a safeguard for our democratic process.
First, it would eliminate the possibility of a minority president by establishing direct democracy throughout the United States in all offices.
Also, it would restore the balance of power which is now unevenly distributed in the hands of a few key states, without completely destroying the balance in favor of the rural areas.
Third, it would be responsive to the minority as well as the majority of voters. Minority group votes would not be counted in a nation-wide manner. For example, in those cities of states dominated by certain ethnic or political groups, the minority group would still be counted insuring equity to all groups.
It would also update a system which has existed unchanged for nearly two hundred years. Since then, the U.S. has changed from a rural agrarian society to an urban industrial one while the present system takes no account of changes that have taken place. It would eliminate the possibility of electoral blackmail. It would eliminate the danger of a major party candidate being excluded by un. pledged electors and it would be responsible by unpledged electors and it would be responsible both to variation in voter turnout and changes in census.
On the other hand, a number of arguments are often advanced against this means of changing the electoral system. Let us examine the major tenets of the opposition briefly.
First, federal control of election would be inevitable. This argument overlooks a number of important factors. Congress has power under the 'equal protection' clause of the 14th amendment over provisions of sufferage where such provisions are deemed an infringement of 'equal protection.' States also retain the power of deciding age and other qualifications except where such provisions are restrictive.
Second, direct election would encourage proliferation of splinter parties. Most importantly, runoff elections would be highly unlikely. A third party would need a minimum of 20% of the popular vote to cause a runoff. If a party can garner 20% of the vote in this nation it certainly deserves a place on the ballot.
Third, 40% of the vote is not enough of a majority for the President to run the country effectively. In light of this argument, it is interesting to note that one-third of this country's presidents have been elected with less than 50% of the national vote including Adams, Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy and Nixon. Lincoln had less than 40% and was not on the ballots of 10 states. Members of Congress are now elected by a plurality vote.
Upon these predicates and in light of the danger inherent in continuation of an out-moded, inequitable procedure that is objected to by the majority of the people and has rendered popular decisions invalid, it is clear that the Congress of the United States must abolish the Electoral system and allow the people to directly elect the President and the Vice-President of the United States.
I repeat my appreciation to the Committee for its attentiveness and interest and submit these thoughts for your further study.
Senator BAYH. Thank you very much, Mr. Warren and Dr. Shao. I appreciate your taking the time to be with us.
One of the basic concerns that has been expressed by a previous witness today, that I think you heard, goes to the very roots of our form of government. Much of Dr. Bailey's concern or rationale for acting independently, as I heard him describe it, was based on his belief that under present conditions the individual voter either did not have the capacity or the capability of making a good decision himself, whether this was because of lack of information or misinformation.
I would like you to give me your judgment, if you would, Dr. Shao. You might compare the environment surrounding election procedures earlier with those today, inasmuch as Dr. Bailey suggested that the need for the electoral college, the free, independent elector, was greater today than it was before. I would like to have your thoughts on it.
Mr. Warren, I think we would like to have your personal views on the degree to which young people today do or do not have the educational background that would enable them to make a reasoned judg. ment as voters.
Dr. Shao. Senator Bayh, I would think that my main argument against the retention of the electoral college as an elective or as an electoral process for the President and the Vice President is that it is obsolete, obsolete partly because the electorate has become much