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THE DISTRICT METHOD
Companion measures of Senator Mundt's bill were
introduced in the House. Two major variations of the District Method are:
In the First Session (1965) of the 89th Congress, A. With the retention of the Electoral College
Senator Mundt's proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 12, B. With the elimination of the Electoral College
was co-sponsored by the same basic group of Senators District Method
with the exception of Senator Goldwater who is no With Retention of Electoral College
longer in the Senate. One of the co-sponsors, Senator
Thurmond, in the interim had switched from the DemHow It Would Work
ocratic to Republican Party. - The person and the office of the elector would be preserved
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF DISTRICT METHOD - The electors would be elected in a manner similar WITH RETENTION OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE to that of U. S. Representatives and U. S. Sen
- The District Method would apply to Presidenators; i.e., one elector for each district and two
tial elections the principles of representation that electors running at large.
apply in the election of Congress. Geographical lines of districts would be set by
The electoral vote results would not be distorted the state legislatures—not necessarily identical
and the majority of the winner exaggerated to congressional districts.
as it is in the present system which awards all Presidential elector candidates with a plurality
of the state's electoral votes to the party winning in cach electoral district would win, and the
a plurality of popular votes. Presidential elector candidates achieving a plu
- It would diminish the excessive political imrality in a state would be elected.
portance of larger, doubtful states, and encourage - The Presidential candidate receiving the vote
the major parties to choose candidates and seek of a majority of the electors would win.
electoral votes elsewhere throughout the country. - If no candidate received a majority of the elec
- It would encourage the minority party in cur.. toral vote, the newly elected U. S. Senate and
rently one-party states.
- Splinter parties would not be encouraged bePresident from the candidates having the three
cause they could have little hope of diverting highest numbers of electoral votes. A majority
more than a few electoral votes from one major of the whole number of Senators and Represent
party candidate. atives would elect. (Quorum required: three - By preserving the electors, the District Method fourths of whole number of Senators and would continue Presidential elections on an intraRepresentatives.)
state basis, with state election laws controlling. The District Method appears to have been the most - It would no longer be possible for localized bad popular reform proposal in the early years of the Re weather or vote frauds to swing the entire elecpublic. It was proposed at one time or another by toral vote of a state. most of the then state legislatures. Four times between
Gerrymandering of districts would be avoided by 1813-1824 it was approved by the U. S. Senate. In
requiring that “electoral districts" be composed 1820, it failed to pass the U. S. House of Representa
of compact and contiguous territory containing tives by a 92-54 vote, just short of the required Con
as nearly as practicable the number of persons stitutional two-thirds majority and was defeated again
which entitled the state to one Representative in in 1826 by a vote of 90-102,
the Congress, and by providing that such disMore recently, the District Method has been em
tricts when formed shall not be altered until bodied in proposals offered by former Representative
another census has been taken. (Senator Mundi's Frederic R. Coudert, Jr. (R-N.Y.-1947-59), and
proposal contains such a stipulation.) Senator Karl E. Mundt (R-S.D.). It has been co
- It would give equal weight, based on population, sponsored by many other members of Congress through
to both rural and urban districts. Each voter, the years. In the First Session (1963) of the 88th Congress,
regardless of where he lived, would vote for two Senator Mundt's proposal, Senate Joint Resolution 12,
"State Electors" and one "District Elector." was co-sponsored by the following U. $. Senators,
-- Alleged undue influence of minorities in urban listed as they appeared on the Resolution:
areas of large states would be reduced to their Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.); John L. McClellan (D
numbers in the population. Ark.): Roman L. Hruska (R-Nebr.): Thruston B. The system would tend to equate the political Morton (R-Ky.); Hiram L. Fong (R-Hawaii); J. Caleb pressures on the President with those felt by Boggs (R-Del.); John Stennis (D-Miss.); Winston L. Congress, since they would be elected by closely Prouty (R-Vt.); Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.)
- The system would remove the method of choos
ing Presidential electors from the control of the
system to operate under state laws.
District Method would change no other provi-
of Presidents. (Note: Congressional redistricting in recent years has changed the impact of this
argument) District MethodWith Elimination of Electoral College
How It Would Work The District Method without the electoral college would work in the same manner as the District Method with the electoral college except that the person and the office of elector would be eliminated. The electoral votes would be retained.
ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION TO DISTRICT
METHOD WITH RETENTION
OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE
possible under the district plan, i.e., a President
votes than his nearest opponent.
country as against the metropolitan areas.
elector districts despite the standards laid down
tempts may not be effective,
tionally be reduced through isolating them in
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF DISTRICT METHOD WITH ELIMINATION
OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE
bersome institution. By its elimination, all pos-
ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION TO DISTRICT METHOD WITH ELIMINATION
OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE - If the electoral college were to be eliminated it
would violate one element in our federal structure, - In only eight instances in our history has it been
alleged that electors cast ballots for someone
SUMMARY STATEMENT The National Chamber's Public Affairs Committee Additional copies of this National Chamber referconducted a comprehensive study on Electoral College endum pamphlet will be made available on requestReform and feels strongly, along with the Board of not exceeding in number that of the Board of Directors Directors, that the method now used to elect the Presi- and appropriate committee of the organization making dent and Vice President should be changed through the request. Orders should specify Electoral College
Reform Referendum Pamphlet. the adoption of an Amendment to the Constitution.
The National Chamber has on hand a limited quanSubject to referendum approval of the proposed
tity of a special report on Electoral College Reform policy statement the National Chamber is prepared to
published by the Senate Judiciary Committee following support the adoption of an Amendment that would
comprehensive hearings that were held in 1961. A provide for the elimination of the electoral college and
single copy of this report will be mailed to any member establish either the Nationwide Popular Vote or the organization on request. The title of the document is District Method in the election of the President and The Electoral College, U. S. Senate, Judiciary ComVice President of the United States.
mittee Report, Oct. 10, 1961.
ALTERNATE METHODS OF REFORM
Some people recognize the need for reform, but recommend other proposals Two of the more popular alternate reform proposals arc.
1. The Proportional Method
THE PROPORTIONAL METHOD
How It Would Work
would be eliminated, but the electoral vote pre-
from that state, - Each Presidential candidate would receive the
same proportion of the electoral vote as his share of the state's popular vote, with fractional votes
carried out to three decimals. - High man would win, provided that if no can
didate received at least 40 per cent of the elec toral vote nationwide, the new Senators and Representatives sitting jointly and voting as individuals-would pick the President from the two candidates having the largest clectoral vote. A majority of the combined votes of the House
and Senate would be needed to elect The Proportional Method was first proposed by Rep. Levi Maish (Pa) in 1877. Maish proposed that each state's clectoral votes be divided proportionately, but rounded off to whole numbers. Later in 1877, Rep Jordan E Cravens (Ark.) introduced a plan providing for a proportional division of each state's electoral votes carried out to the third decimal place.
The Proportional Method of dividing cach state's clectoral votes has been incorporated in over seventy amendments proposed since 1947. These resolutions include the Lodge-Gossett and the Daniel-Kefauver proposed amendments. These labels derive from the names of legislators associated with the principal sponsorship of the Proportional Method. They are: former Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.--193743, 1947-53), former Rep. Ed Gossett (D-Tex 1939-51), former Senator Price Daniel (D-Tex1953-56), and Senator Estes Kefauver (D-Tennnow deceased).
In 1950, the U. S. Senate approved the Proportional Method by a vote of 65-27, more than the required two-thirds for proposed Constitutional Amendments. However, the House of Representatives rejected the measure.
In the 88th Congress (1963-64), Senator Kefauver's bill, Senate Joint Resolution 27, had the following co-sponsors, with senators listed as they appeared on the Resolution:
Thomas J. Dodd (D-Conn.): Thomas H. Kuchel (R Calif.). Jennings Randolph (D-W.Va.); Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass.): John J. Sparkman (D-Ala.), Claiborne Pell (D-RI).
Companion measures were introduced in the House of Representatives.
In the First Session (1965) of the 89th Congress, Senator Sparkman (D-Ala,), with co-sponsorship by Senator Saltonstall (R-Mass.), introduced Senate Joint Resolution 7, and Senator Smathers (D-Fla.) intro duced Senate Joint Resolution 28 proposing the Proportional Method of reform.
- Minority party votes would not go uncounted as RETAIN PRESENT SYSTEM - ELML they are under the present system.
NATE ELECTORAL COLLEGE The electoral vote would conform far more
How h Venk Fork closely to the actual popular vote than the pres. ent system
- Person and office of electex elimitated
- Each state would be entitled to cast for Press Individual clectors and or state legislatures
dent and Vice President a saber of electual would no longer have the power to frustrate
votes equal to the whole number of Senators and the will of the people.
Representatives to which such state is entitled It would more accurately measure the overall
in the Congress. (same as present system) popular strength of the various candidates by
- Each state's entire electoral vote would be case ccasing to allot to any candidate a greater pro
for the candidate receiving & plurality of the portion of each state's clectoral vote than he
popular vole in that state. (mme present received of the popular vote in the state
system) - The method would reduce the influence of op
- If no candidate has a majority of the whole ganized minorities in pivotal states because their
number of electoral vores for Presadest ar Vies influence would be measured by their numbers
President, the House and Senate sitting only rather than by their bargaining power in swing
and voting as individuals, would choose the marginal states
President from the top three candidates Plurality - Accidental circumstances and fraudulent voting of entire House and Senate would ekeci. Omorum
or vote counting would be less likely to defcat would be three-fourths of whole membership the choice of the people, because the entire (present system calls for House of Represente clectoral vote of a state would no longer hinge tives only to choose in case no candidates on a few questionable votes
ceived a majority of electoral votes) - It would broaden the base for the selection of this method has had some Congressional support
Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates by in the past. In the First Session (1965) od the 898) decreasing the incentive to nominate a man Congress, President Johnson proposed this site and from a large state.
it has been introduced (SJ Res 58) in the Senate It would not disturb the present system of rant by Senator Bayh (D-Ind.), Charman of the Senate ing to cach state a number of electoral votes Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments equal to the number of its Senators and Repre
President Johnson's proposal calls for the elimina sentatives.
tion of the Electoral College (ic, the person med
the office of clectors) and writing the present e r Sectionalism would tend to be abated.
take-all system into the Constitution The state legislatures would no longer determine On January 29, 1965, President Johnson and how clectors are appointed.
message to Congress on electoral colleges reform, stal The outmoded office of the elector, and the ing in part abuses which it invites, would be abolished, and "We believe that the people should elect their Press the people would feel they had a more direct dent and Vice President. One of the cariest und voice in the choice of a President At the same ments to our Constitution was submitted and me time the federal principle would be preserved fied in response to the unhappy experience of an insofar as cach state would continue to have Electoral College stalemate, which jeopardized this one electoral vote to correspond with cach of principle. Today, there lurks in the Electoral Cor its two senators.
lege system the ever-present possiblaty that clectors - Minor parties would not be motivated to seck may substitute their own for the wall of the
clectoral votes because they would still have people beleive that possibility should be fore no hope of winning, and if a 40 per cent plural
closed ity requirement is adopted, this would reduce Our present system of computing and awarding cler the chance of the election being thrown into toral votes by states is an esseatral counterpart of the House of Representatives,
our Federal system and the provisions of our com
stitution which recognize and maintain our Name ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION TO as a union of states. It supports the two-party THE PROPORTIONAL METHOD
system which has served our Natige weit It would still be possible for the clectoral vote
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF RETAINING to clect a man who lost in the popular vote.
PRESENT SYSTEM WITH ELIMINATION The proportionate division of the electoral vote
OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE would encourage the splintering of political parties.
- This method would have the effect of
that the electoral votes of each state would Proportionate division of electoral votes would
to the Presidential candidates who received the establish a dangerous precedent for the intro
highest number of popular votes in each statt. duction of proportional representation in the Congress and the legislative bodies of the several
- It would remove one of the most fagrant de
fects" (possible errant electors) in the present states.
system without changing its essential mature Proportional distribution of the electoral vote would weaken the power of the major parties
- It would give constitutional backing to the gen because it would be relatively easy for the minor
eral Escket system that is in te ity parties to win electoral votes.
- It would support the two party system It would retain the advantage that the small states have in the allocation of two clectoral ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION TO voles to each state for the two U.S. Scnators. RETAINING PRESENT SYSTEN SITE regardless of the population of the states. ELIMINATION OF ELECTORAL COLLEGE Proportional division of the electoral vote as - Opponents fall into two category those who proposed would permit the election of a Press insist that there should be no tampering what dent receiving merely a plurality of the electoral soever with the present system, and those the vote. Present requirement calls for a majority agree that clectors should be bound, but the of the electoral vote.
feel that this would be only a half-way measure In a close cloction, with votes being challenged
which overlooks many other inequídies is the and recounted, the mathematics would be com present system, plicated, and the election might hang in doubt - It would "freeze the present "winger-ear for weeks.
(ie.. general ticket or mit vote) system with Rather than adopt a complicated method that
all of its inequities and dangers into the Co has almost the same effect as direct election,
tution. (except for the "errant elector problem.) adoption of the simpler system of direct election - If adopted, it would preclude meaningful would be more practicable.
form for some time, if not permanenthe