electoral vote. Thev knew the evils which
arise when a chief executive assumes
office, hacked only by weak support of a
plurality of the total electoral vote.
It is true, I know, that on twelve occasions a President of the United States has
heen elected without having had a majority of the [lop,ilar vole. Hut rather than
improve upon that situation, the proposal
to elect hy plurality i.s almost certain to
Perpetuate it. The condition will he perpetuated because it is a certain invitation
for many parties to enter the field, if a
plurality only i.s required.
That means a breakdown of the two-
party system as we know it. While that
two-party system is unknown to the Constitution, it is one of the most constructive
features of American government. . . .
Wherever plurality decisions arc provided for . . . there is an ever-present tendency toward minority control. A well-
Organized, compact minority may easily
Prevail over scattered, divided majorities. . . .
Furthermore, it is never enough to say
that a possibility is remote when a failure
to guard against such a possibility may he
fatal. The supporters ol representative
government must win every battle; their
opponents need only one victory and it is
over for the future."
Not only do the opponents of this
Plan believe that the proportional system would encourage the growth of
"lird parties, or fourth, or fifth, until
the two-party system is endangered,
jjut that if these parties have a vote in
the election of the President or Vice
President, they will then probably
demand proportional representation
Wherever proportional representation in the legislative body lias been
Employed an unstable government
develops, as in France. This principle
^duld put men in the legislature vv ho
••6Uncompromising and immoderate.
People vvho measure their differences
["bier than their likenesses. This is
)('cause under proportional repicsen-
'ttton the constituents of a representa-
,v<' are not the people living in a geo-
sjaphical area, but an abstract group
of voters who think alike. Such a representative would not have to consider
'hose who may differ with him.
hi line with this it is also argued
Ult under the proportional system the
l*Presentative in the legislature would
1(1 controlled by the party managers
"ho really appoint him to represent a
"'"hemalical constituency, and these
'''"'ty managers would demand obedi-
^Ce rather than thought.
The Senate Committee Beport
'"isvvers this objection by pointing out
'.'•'t the election of the President and
'°e President by proportional count
0ll'd not introduce the principle of
"""'<', pp. 107 8c 109.
acts Forum News, August, 1950
proportional representation in Congress.
But proportional representation is obviously inapplicable to the election of a
single official to one position, such as the
President of the United States. As Senator
Lodge has stated. "Even the cleverest surgeon cannot divide one man up, proportionally or otherwise, and expect him to
This proposed plan to give each presidential candidate his rightful share of the
electoral vote, therefore, should not be
confused with (he system of constituting
a legislative body or similar group on the
basis of proportional representation.10
Senator Ferguson pointed out that,
though sponsors of the resolution
make much of the disfranchisement of
voters under the present system with
losers' votes being added to those of
the winner, a plurality winner may
have only 1(1 per cent of the electoral
votes. "What of the defeated majority.
with 60 per cent of the votes?" he
asks. "Are their votes not lost, too, or
considered as counted for the minority
winner? As a matter of fact, I cannot
become excited over the argument of
lost votes. It seems to me to be only
an appeal for popular support ftir the
resolution, an appeal without real substance in reason ami logic.
"In eveiy election where there can
be but a single winner, all votes east
for the losing candidates can be said
to be lost," continues Ambassador Ferguson. "Sponsors of the resolution
would merely transfer the lost votes
so-called from the state to the national level. In truth, no votes are lost
when validly cast in an election. They
are counted toward whatever tbe final
decision is, whether it be the unit of
an electoral majority or tbe plurality
of electoral votes, and if found insufficient to win, they have simply exhausted their power as votes."11
The final argument against the
Daniel-Kefauver amendment, formerly known as the Lodge-Gossett plan,
is that this system would be a weakening of states' independence, even
though it wouldn't completely obliterate state lines in tt national election.
Many of the advocates of this plan
admit they would favor a direct popular vote, eliminating the electoral
vote altogether, except that thev know
there is very little chance of acceptance of such a plan by enough states
to make the amendment valid. Those
who uphold states' rights believe that
even the Daniel-Kefauverproportional
vote plan would be one step in the
direction of losing state sovereignty
"•Ibid., p. 114.
"Ibid., p. 111.
This "district vote" plan contains
the following provisions:
(1) A single elector is assigned to
each congressional district within the
state. The total number of district electors corresponds to the number of representatives each state has in Congress.
(2) Each state is assigned two electors at large, corresponding with the
number of senators each state has in
(3) These electors are elected from
each district and state in the same
manner as representatives and senators.
(4) An absolute majority of all of
the electoral votes cast in all congressional districts and states is necessary
to win the national election.
(5) If no one candidate has such
an absolute majority, the election goes
over to Congress, with the Senate and
House of Representatives voting as
one body, each member casting one
vote. There is no requirement that the
winning candidate have an absolute
majority in Congress.
Arguments in Favor of the
According to the advocates of this
plan, the district electoral vote would
have great advantages over both the
present system and the proportional
vote system. It will, they claim.
achieve a desirable symmetry with the
procedure for the election of Congress. Since both the executive and
legislative branches of the government
will be elected on the same basis, conflict between the branches will be
eliminated. This would also preserve
the small state-large state balance
embodied in the allotment of electoral
votes according to size of a congressional delegation.
The proponents claim further that
this amendment will substantially reduce the risk of electing a minority
President, i.e., one who receives fewer
popular votes than his leading
In order to win an electoral vote
under the district system, a third (or
fourth, or fifth) party would almost
have to carry at least one congressional district; the only alternative
would be to win enough popular votes
in the state as a whole to capture one
of the electoral votes allotted for the
electors at large. This would discourage the "splintering" of political
This amendment would diminish