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El Paso, Tex., February 19, 1969. MEMBERS OF THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Hon. GENTLEMEN : Further consideration on the election of the President compels me to seek a still more excellent way, or at least a way which will bring the election more immediately to the people, while protecting against emotionalism and sectionalism.
May I refer you to my previous statement printed in the 1968 publication of hearings on this subject, beginning on page 689. A brief restatement of the suggested changes is attached for your convenience.
A variation of those changes might be to allow direct nomination by the people outside of the political party organization. Under such a system the individual voter could nominate the Presidential electors as well as the President and VicePresident. Presidential elector nomination could be on either a party or non-party basis, but nomination for President and Vice-President would have to be on a party basis, with the individual voter required to nominate from both of the two leading parties in his state. A suggested form of ballot is attached.
These ballots could be routed through the office of the County Clerk for consolidation, then a copy or copies of the consolidation record could be forwarded to the state legislature for further consolidation on a state-wide basis. The state legislature should be required to act first on the choice of the electors, choosing from the three names having the highest number of votes from each Congressional District, then two from the remaining nominees for Presidential elector.
As to the names submitted to the electors by each state legislature, certainly the three names from each party having the highest number of votes in the state should be submitted, only one name from each party to be from the same State as themselves. Perhaps a further provision might be good which would allow the state legislature to submit one or two other names from each party, even if not nominated by the people, provided three-quarters of the state legislature agrees that an eminently qualified person has been omitted from the list. In like manner, the electors might be allowed to submit a name if two-thirds of the electors are in agreement. These latter provisions should not be needed if the people have done their job well. Washington, D.C., would require special rules, but that could be worked out.
While I agree with Senator Margaret Chase Smith in many ways, her statement that "the will of the individual must not be subservient to that of the state" seems stronger than she may have meant it. Neither the electoral college as originally designed nor the present use of it by the unit system are an expression of the state governments as governments. Rather, as to original intent and as to current use, the electoral college is but one other example of our republican form in which the will of the people is supposed to be made manifest through their representatives. A presidential elector was intended as a representative of the people for a particular duty. Under current use, electors are more often representatives of a political party as opposed to the people.
In 1960, the northeast quadrant of the nation contained 56.6 percent of the population, 56 per cent of the electoral college, 44 per cent of the states, and most of the wealth and industry. The southeast quadrant contained 16.3 per cent of the population, 16.9 per cent of the electoral college, 18 per cent of the states. some industry but less wealth and more agriculture. The southwest quadrant (including Hawaii) contained 19.4 per cent of the population, 19.7 per cent of the electoral college, 20 per cent of the states, with mining, shipping, industry and agriculture-ranching scattered throughout. The northwest quadrant (including Alaska) contained five per cent of the population, 7.8 per cent of the electoral college, 18 per cent of the states, and is largely agricultural-ranching with mining and shipping.
In view of this, how does one avoid sectionalism? The northeast quadrant contains a majority of the population in a minority of the states, but its interests are plainly not the same in all respects as the interests of the majority of the states. The northwest quadrant is composed of nine states, two of which in 1960 contained almost half of the population of the quadrant. Texas alone had more people than was found in the northwest quadrant, but the interests of Texas are somewhat different from those of Idaho, as the interests of Maine are shown to be somewhat different from those of Alaska. In 1960 New York and Pennsylvania together had a population almost equaling that of the 26 least populous states, but the interests are not the same even among the 26 least populous states.
James Madison, our fourth President, considered a national consensus to be that agreeable to a majority of the people of a majority of the states. Further, he was of the opinion that any time we do not have a national consensus we are in trouble. Generally, to date we have given little thought as to the importance of an expression of national consensus in the election of the President. We now have a President elected by a plurality of the people of a majority of the states. In a four-way race for popular vote, we might have to settle for a plurality of the people of a plurality of the states. Can we afford that much 'concentration of divisiveness at that Office which was intended as our point of unity?
The Presidency was intended as our point of unity. The electoral college was designed in part that a concentration of divisive forces would not be possible at this point of unity. Any plan to abolish the electors would soon become a step toward abolishing a voting system based on congressional representation. The electors as persons would soon be forgotten as old copies of the Constitution no longer were available, and as schools would teach little about them and no good thing of them.
How can we prevent a concentration of divisive forces at our Office of unity? Not by any simple means. Not by popular vote. Not by abolishing the electoral college. Nor can it be done by political party nomination, for this is divisive by its very nature. Rather let the political parties suggest to the people the names of their best qualified persons for electors, and for our two highest offices, which names should not be fewer than ten nor more than thirty. Then let the people nominate, each voter to nominate two or three persons for electors, and a like number for President and Vice-President from each of the two leading political parties of their state. This will help to keep down division, for each voter will have to consider the best people from their locality and of both national political parties. When you are riding one horse you can cling to that one with desperation, but when you ride two at once you can cling to neither so must be more alert, less emotional. A transfer of allegiance in such a case comes as less of a shock to the emotions.
The electors themselves might be again required to submit two names for President and two names for Vice-President from each of the two leading parties Leaving the number of votes required for election as "a number of votes equal to a majority of the electors," we will again be back to the original requirement of one-fourth of the number of electoral votes cast as necessary for election. Then the Vice-President would be the person of the same party as the President having the highest number of votes.
Nonelection in the electoral college could be settled as now, except that the House should choose between the two persons having the highest number of electoral votes, each member casting one vote, with a majority of the members of a majority of the states necessary for election. In this way a simple roll call vote could settle the matter quickly. The Senate could act in case of a tie vote for Vice President in the President's party. Thank you for this opportunity to be heard. Respectfully,
MRS. ERNESTINE G. BUSCH.
RESTATEMENT OF SUGGESTED CHANGES IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FROM
MY EARLIER LETTER DATED JAN. 22, 1967, FOR CONVENIENT REFERENCE The State legislatures must be made the nominating committees for our two highest offices, and they should choose the presidential electors, but this power must be closely prescribed. Legislation setting up the procedures to be followed should cover these points :
Presidential election week shall be the week preceding the second Tuesday in November of presidential election years; all state legislatures shall meet that week in their respective state capitols for the purpose of choosing members of the electoral college and placing names in nomination for the President and VicePresident; no other business shall be transacted during that week by the state legislatures.
One elector shall be chosen from each Congressional district; the respective state legislatures shall place in nomination at least five names from each Congressional district, of which at least two must be from each of the two leading political parties of their state; no one shall be eligible to be a member of the electoral college who shall not have had 10 years or more in supervisory and/or
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higher capacity in the business fields of retailing, servicing, manufacturing, wholesaling, farming, and/or transportation, corporation attorneys and legal department personnel excepted, but including retired persons or persons in other fields who qualify otherwise; after an elector has been chosen from each Congressional district in a state, that state legislature shall then choose from among those names already placed in nomination the remaining two electors; in each case the nominee with the highest plurality shall be declared the elector.
Electors shall be chosen on Monday of presidential election week, and shall be immediately notified by telephone and by telegram of their election; they shall arrive the following day in their respective state capitols, and shall report immediately upon arrival to the Clerk of the State Supreme Court, who shall be responsible for seeing that they are held incommunicado from all other persons and influences until 8:00 a.m. the following Friday.
On Wednesday of presidential election week the state legislatures shall meet in their respective states (they shall not meet on Tuesday of that week) and place names in nomination for President and Vice-President; there shall be two lists prepared, one for President and one for Vice-President; each list shall contain not fewer than six nor more than twelve names, nor shall less than three names be submitted from any political party; an equal number of names shall be submitted from each of the two leading political parties of the respective state; when the lists shall have been prepared and signed by the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the State House, they shall be immediately given to the Clerk of the respective State Supreme Court, who shall deliver them to the electors.
The electors shall make their choice from among the names placed in nomine. tion by their respective state legislatures, they may not substitute any other name or names, nor may they consider for one office a name placed in nomination for another office.
The electors shall meet on Thursday of presidential election week and vote by ballot for two persons for each office, President and Vice President, of whom one at least for each office shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a separate list of all persons voted for for each office, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify and transmit, sealed, to the seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate, Congress shall convene on the third Tuesday of that same month, and the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted, first the votes for President, and then the votes for Vice-President. The person having the greatest number of votes for President shall be declared the President, and the person of the same party having the highest number of votes for Vice-President shall be declared to be Vice-President; in those cases where the Vice-President shall succeed to the Presidency, the person of the same party having the second highest number of votes for Vice President shall become Vice-President.
An elector must be a qualified voter of the State in which he is chosen.
SUGGESTED PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION BALLOT, 1972 State of -----
Ballot No.------County of---------
--------- Congressional District No.-----
(Please print or type) Name of VoterVoter Registration Number-----
Precinct No.-----For Presidential Elector from my Congressional District as shown, I nominate: (minimum of two names; maximum of ------ names)
For President of the United States, I nominate:
(minimum of two names from each of the two leading political parties of state shown, only one name to be from voter's state) (maximum of.----names?)
Other Party (print name) ------------
For Vice President of the United States, I nominate:
(minimum of two names from each of the two leading political parties of state shown, only one name to be from voter's state) (maximum of -----
names?) Democratic Party
Other Party (print name) ----
Voter certification (?)
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, D.O., April 24, 1968. Hon. BIRCH BAYH, U.S. Senate, oid Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR BAYH: We note that Electoral College Reform hearings being held by the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments will soon be brought to a close.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States was privileged to have presented testimony before your Subcommittee in 1966 and again in 1967. We feel that this testimony outlined clearly the position of the National Chamber on the issue. We, therefore, did not seek an opportunity to testify this year in the Senate. However, we would be delighted to do so if you would like to have a reiteration of our position.
As you know, the National Chamber did present testimony at hearings held this year by the House Judiciary Committee. I am forwarding a copy of the testimony statement with this letter, together with supporting documents submitted to the House Judiciary Committee, for inclusion in the printed House bearings. Please feel free to insert the statement and documents in the record of your 1969 hearings, if you are inclined to do so.
We are grateful for past courtesies and consideration you have extended to witnesses and staff of the National Chamber and wish you success in your efforts to bring about an amendment to the Constitution which would improve the manner of electing the President and Vice President of the United States. Sincerely,
Don A. GOODALL, General Manager, Legislative Action.