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W]SDNGTON REPORT October 7, 1968 PUBLISHED BY THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES
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Normally, every American would know the answer I to this question. But these are not normal times, and the question of how and under what conditions the next President and Vice President of the United States will be chosen should be a matter of utmost concern to cach American voter.
The importance of the popular vote on Nov. S looms ever larger with the reported possibility of an electoral stalemate, i.e., where neither Nixon, Humphrey nor Wallace receives on election day the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected.
How then would a President and Vice President be chosen? Either by the electors in each of the 50 states or the House of Representatives would elect a Presi. dent, and the Senate a Vice President.
Procedure for each of these methods is spelled out in the Constitution. It is further governed both by law and historic precedent. Nevertheless, the varying possibilities of what might happen are even now-weeks before Election Day-subjects of extensive speculation, intrigue, political pressures and general confusion.
Perhaps this explanation will help each voter appreciate the importance of his one vote on Nov. S: should no Presidential candidate receive the required
270 electoral votes on Nov. 5, the United Statesfor the first time since 1824—would be without a Presi. dent-elect and a Vice-President-elect to take office on Jan. 20. The election would have ended in a stalematea deadlock!
Nothing could be done officially to break the deadlock for at least 40 days, or until Dec. 16 when the electors, chosen by the voters of each state and the District of Columbia, meet in their respective jurisdictions to vote for the President and Vice President. Presumably, each elector would vote for the same candidates who carried his state on Nov. 5.
Unofficially, and behind the scenes between Nov. 6 and Dec. 16, attempts might be made to change the vote contrary to popular wishes expressed at the polls.
Normally, the electors' vote would be perfunctory. However, the existence of an electoral stalemate would center national and international attention on their every action. If the electors voted the same as their respective states (only 16 states require this), the Presidential election would remain deadlocked.
The sealed results of the electors' vote, state by state, would be officially reported to a joint session of the Senate and House of the 91st Congress on Jan. 6. Tf the joint session were advised that no Presidential
candidate had at least 270 electoral votes needed for election, then the Senate would retire to its chambers to elect a Vice President from the two candidates having the highest number of electoral votes. Two-thirds of the Senate would constitute a quorum, with 51 votes required for election. Each senator would cast one vote per ballot, the Vice President in case of a tie.
The House would begin balloting immediately to elect a President from among the three candidates having the highest number of electoral votes. In the House each state, regardless of size or the number of its Representatives, would have but one vote per ballot. Twothirds of the states (34) would have to be represented
to constitute a quorum. The votes of at least 26 states would be required for election.
The vote per state would be determined by a caucus of its House delegation, the majority ruling. If its delegation were evenly divided and unable to reach a decision, that state would cast no ballot.
It is possible that 26 states with a population of 31 million people could outvote 24 states with a total pupulation of 149 million. It is also possible for 76 Representatives from 26 states to elect a President in a House of 435 Representatives from the 50 states. The balloting would continue, without interruption of
other business, until a choice of President is made. The House in 1801 cast 36 ballots before electing Thomas Jefferson. In 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected on the first ballot over Andrew Jackson even though Jackson had received the greater popular and electoral vote.
With the House electing a President and the Senate a Vice President, it is not impossible for each to be of a different political party. This would depend on the political makeup of the Senate and the House.
If by inauguration day, Jan. 20, no one has been elected President, then the Vice President elected by the Senate would be sworn in and would be "Acting President" until the House did elect a President.
If the possibility of either unrestricted electors or the House/Senate electing the President/Vice President is not sufficient to arouse in each voter the desire to choose for himself on Nov. S the heads of state for the next four years, then consider the effect on our national economy on our national and world prestige-on domestic and world conditions IF: • On Nov. S, the United States of America the world's greatest democracy-failed to elect a President and Vice President? • The United States were without a President- and VicePresident-elect for the period Nov. 6-Dec. 16, Nov. 6Jan. 6, Nov. 6-Jan. 20, or beyond?
Without knowing the answers to these questions, it is not difficult to imagine what chaotic conditions might prevail-and their effect.
Whatever happens on Nov. S or beyond rests squarely with all American voters. The importance and value of each vote cannot be overemphasized.
(Note to subscribers: You have our permission to reproduce this page for wider distribution.)
Congress should act on reform
To Juarantee that such an uncertainty in a Presidential election may not again develop or threaten, the new Congress should act promptly to amend the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College, and provide for the election of the President and Vice President by one of two methods: Nationwide popular vote or the so-called District Method.
Either method conforms to National Chamber policy voted in the Chamber's Referendum No. 98.
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WASHINGTON REPORT is published weekly (except, biweekly when Congress is not in session) by Chamber of Commerce of the United States.
Your views are being sought on two important issues facing the 89th Congress - electoral college reform and presidential succession.
Please indicate your views on these subjects by filling
This questionnaire does not in any way alter or impinge upon the regular procedures followed by the National Chamber ia developing policy on national issues and problems.
Responses will enable us to obtain samplings of opind on and will assist in the formulation of policy through regular procedures provided in the National Chamber By-Laws.
We hope to obtain a wide sampling of National Chamber organization membership, so you are urged to fill out the questionnaire and return it to us -- with or without your signature, whichever you prefer.
Consistent with National Chamber BY-LAWS, this is ax informal poll to determine trende of business opinion on questions currently important, the results not to be binding upon the Chamber as to policy. but to be advisory to the Board of Directors and Management,
OPINION POLL ON ELECTORAL
COLLEGE REFORM Please give us your opinion by checking in the chart below the method of electoral college reform you would prefer to see adopted. If you would accept other methods in addition to your principal choice, please indicate in the order of your preference. If you prefer to leave the present system undisturbed, indicate in the space provided. (See attached copy of Congressional Action, Nov. 2, 1964 providing arguments pro and con the principal proposed methods of reform. Similar proposals have been introduced in the 89th Congress.)
OPINION POLL ON
PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION I am in favor of a Constitutional Amendment similar to S.J. Res. I currently pending before Congress providing for a system of handling cases of Presidential inability and Vice Presidential vacancy. (See attached copy of Here's the Issue, August 24, 1964 on "Presidential Succession." Note: SJ. Res. 1 of 89th Congress is similar to S.J. Res. 139 of 88th Congress.)
A Legislative Bulletin for Congressional Action Committees of Chambers of Commerce, and Trade and Professional Associations
ELECTORAL COLLEGE REFORD: A Developing Issue This special edition of CONGRESSIONAL ACTION discusses a matter Meanwhile, for advisory guidance, an Opinion Poll of National of widespread public interest, and one that is likely to become a Chamber members is scheduled for February legislative issue in the 89th Congress.
Organization and business members will be asked in the poll to The objective of Electoral College Reform was approved in recommend the method they believe to be the fairest and mou principle by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in representative of the will of the people for electing the President 1962 and a long-range educational program was undertaken to and Vice President of the United States. familiarize members with the problem and the various proposals Information in this issue of CONGRESSIONAL ACTION is offered to for reform.
help you, either individually or through your Congressional Action Specific National Chamber policy on the method for effecting Committee, to express your opinion on Electoral College Reform the reform may be established in 1965 through a referendum of to leaders of your chambers of commerce, or trade a professional the business federation's voting members-local and state cham association. bers of commerce, and trade and professional associations,
Fourteen times in our history, a President has been clected who received less than a majority (more than onehall) of the total popular vote.
In three of the fourteen cases, Presidents were elected who did not even have a plurality; that is, they actually received fewer popular votes than their nearest opponents.
In 1824, John Quincy Adams received fewer popular votes than Andrew Jackson. Since neither had a majority of the electoral votes, the election fell to the House of Representatives, which elected Adams.
In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes received fewer popular votes than Samuel J. Tilden. However, returns from four states were contested and an electoral commission created by Congress decided in favor of Hayes, enabling him to win the election by one electoral vote.
In 1888, Benjamin Harrison polled fewer popular votes than Grover Cleveland but received more electoral votes and was elected to the Presidency,
Some advocates of change in the system of electing the President and Vice President have offered the preceding incidents as examples of the "incquities" that are possible under the method now used in electing men to thc two highest offices in the land.
However, the fact that our present system permits, under certain circumstances, election of so-called "minority" presidents may not be the most important or even a valid reason for changing the present method. Many other reasons have been offered by those who feel there are weaknesses and inherent danger in the system which gives the entire slate of Presidential Electors in a State to the party receiving a plurality of the popular vote."
• The Founding Fathers never intended that the individual States would cast their electoral votes en bloc.
• An elector is not bound by anything excepe custom, personal honor and party affiliation to vote for the candidate to whom he pledged himself before the election
• The present system permits the appointment of unpledged electors.
• In a close election, a few electors, being unobliged, might simply choose to change their candidate, thereby altering the choice of the President.
• The present system tends to limit the choice of candidates to men from States having large blocs of electoral votes.
• The unit vote system puts a premium on fraud be. cause the juggling of a few votes can swing the clectoral votes of the entire State and, in a close clection, the decision of who will be President.
• The State legislatures may abuse the power they now have to direct any method they wish of selecting Presidential electors
• The present system tends to confine Presidential campaigns to a few pivotal States.
• The present method permits and invites undue influence by splinter parties and minority groups in large pivotal States, perpetuating the continuation and political solidification of economic, racial, and religious groups. It also places pressure on the candidate to favor the minority groups that help to bring about his election.
Arguments in Opposition to Present System*** Among the reasons offered are the following:
***MinorityTM Presidents-see center fold
**Unit Vote System (sometimes called Bloc Voting or General Tiket System).
***Effective Constuutional provisions applying to the election of the Presi dent and Vice-President of the United States are enumerated in Article II. Section 1 and the Twelfth Amendment.
Arguments for Continuing Present System Those who support the continuation of the present system offer the following arguments in favor of their position:
• With but one amendment, the present system has been used successfully for almost two centuries.
• Only once, in 1876, did a candidate (Samuel J. Tilden) who actually received a majority (over 50 per cent) of the popular votc fail to win the Presidency.
• The present system holds to the principle of federalism on which the country was founded, by allowing the States a voice in the choice of clectors.
• The present system provides for effective expression of the vote in large cities in Presidential elections to offset the rural influence allegedly evident in the Congress, .
• Under any system which accords each State two clectoral votes, corresponding to its two scnators, the electoral vote may go to a man who has not received a majority of the popular vote. The only alternative would be to elect the President by direct popular vote.
• The choice of a President has fallen into the House of Representatives only twice, in 1801, and again in 1825.
Major Reform Proposals
Several Joint Resolutions proposing amendments to the Constitution relating to the method of electing the President and Vice President were introduced in the Senate in the 88th Congress 1963-64.
Of these, two were approved June 26, 1963, by the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments of the Senate Judiciary Committee but the full committee took no action.
The resolutions were introduced by Sen. Karl E. Mundt (R-S.D.) and by the late Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-Tenn.). Both proposals were co-sponsored by members of both parties. Senator Mundt's proposal would institute the socalled District Method and Senator Kefauver's proposals would institute the so-called Proportional Method.
Senator Mundt's bill introduced in the 88th Congress was co-sponsored by the following U.S. Senators-listed as they appeared on the Resolution: Strom Thurmond (D-S. C.) J. Caleb Boggs (R-Del.) John L. McClellan (D-Ark.) John Stennis (D-Miss.) Roman L. Hruska (R-Nebr.) Winston L. Prouty (R-Vt.) Thruston B. Morton (R-Ky.) Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) Hiram L. Fong (R-Hawaii) How the District Method Would Work
• The person and the office of the elector would be preserved.
• The electors would be elected in a manner similar to that of U. S. House and Senate i.e.. one elector for each district and two electors running at large.
• Geographical lines of districts would be set by the State legislatures--not necessarily identical to congressional districts.
• Presidential elector candidates with a plurality in each electoral district would win, and the two elector candidates running at large, achieving a plurality in a State would be elected.
• The Presidential candidate receiving the vote of a majority of the electors would win.
• If no candidate received a majority of the electoral vote, the newly elected U. S. House and Scnate, sitting jointly and voting as individuals, would choose the President from the candidates having the three highest numbers of electoral votes. A majority of the whole number of Senators and Representatives would elect. Arguments in favor of District Method
• The District Method would apply to Presidential elections the principles of representation that apply in the election of Congress.
• The electoral vote results would not be distorted and the majority of the winner exaggerated—as it is in the present system which awards all of the State's electoral votes to the party winning a plurality of popular votes.
• It would diminish the excessive political importance of larger, doubtful States, and encourage the major parties to choyse candidates and seek electoral votes elsewhere throughout the country.
• It would encourage the minority party in currently one-party States.
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