the excessive political importance of
large, doubtful states, encouraging the
major parties to choose candidates
and seek votes elsewhere throughout
the country. It would also provide a
check on the use of excessive political
power by large cities, and especially
by minority groups within those cities.
Under the district system, voters in
city districts could control at most
their own electoral votes and the few
electoral votes cast at large.
Choice of presidential electors by
the district system would limit the
political effects of local frauds, bad
weather, intense local issues, and
other such factors. Much was made in
the Senate debates over the importance of developing a system by which
bad weather or catastrophe would not
keep the electors from fulfilling their
office on a certain day. Under the unit
rule method, outcome of an entire
state's electoral vote could be changed
if one elector were prevented by
forces of nature or some other accident from casting his vote from the
state capitol. The Mundt-Coudert advocates point out that such forces
would be more localized in the districts, and the absence of one district
electoral vote could not possibly have
such far-reaching effects.
Thev- claim this amendment would
foster the growth of the second partv
in states usually dominated by one
partv, and would reduce the present
difference in weight between popular
votes cast in large states and similar
votes cast in small states. In the opinion of the backers of this plan, it
would end the distortion created by
giving all of a state's electoral votes
to the candidate receiving a plurality
of the popular votes in that state.
This plan would maintain the federal principle, with no precedent that
would introduce into the election machinery the principle of proportional
representation, and would not threaten the control of the states over voting
requirements. In fact, the district system would accomplish these reforms
with a minimum of constitutional
change. Under the present constitutional provisions, state legislatures
may decide voluntarily to choose presidential electors on the district system.
It would be a return to the late 1700's
and early 1800's for it was normal
then for the states to cast electoral
votes by congressional districts.
Views of Opponents of the
In reply, opponents of the Mundt-
Coudert district electoral vote plan
say that the proposal would not accomplish its purpose of making the
electoral vote correspond more nearly
to the popular vote. All it does, they
say, is to reduce the size of the electoral units for electors from the states,
as they are at the present time, to congressional districts.
These districts, too, are not now of
equal size. For instance, in Indiana
there is a district with 551,777 people,
and another with only 258,441 people.
Many other states have similar inconsistencies. The basing of presidential
elections upon congressional districts
would surely increase existing temptations toward gerrymandering, a term
applied to the dividing of a district in
an unnatural way to give one political
party or pressure group an unfair
This plan would arbitrarily balance
one district against another, despite
great differences in population, and
therefore balance one electoral vote
against another, although one vote
may represent four times the popular
vote of the other.
Opponents contend that since it is
in general the rural districts which
have the smaller population per district, the effect of the Mundt-Coudert
amendment is substantially to increase
the influence of the rural population
in selection of the President and Vice
While it has been suggested thrf
the problem of gerrymandering could
be controlled by federal regulation,
opponents of this plan argue that such
intervention of the federal government into the election machinery
would be undesirable.
Another objection raised is that the
symmetry which it would seek to obj
tain between the methods of selecting
members of Congress and members o*
the executive branch is in fact unwise-
It is suggested that the different methods which are used in this country M
the selection of the different branches
of government help provide the chec*5
and balances which are part of the
strength of our system of government.'- •
The Mundt-Coudert amendment is
also criticized by some because it doe*
not provide for abolition of the office
Contrary to the thought that tlus
plan would foster the growth of W
parties in present one-party statCT
opponents say it would encouraf?
one-party voting in the South by •"
creasing that section's influence •'.
national elections. Likewise, it wou1
diminish the influence of states \vher.
there is a balance of political sen"
ment by dividing their electoral vote*
There are six states that are und"
tricted; they select their congressrn<*
at large. The Mundt-Coudert p1'1",
would permit such states to contin"
Huddles on the convention floor are part of the accepted pattern of party politics. Most ol the
suggestions for electoral reform include methods to minimize undue influence of pressure groups.
l2Anu.'rk\m Knlcrprisu Report No. 616, March
1956, p. 13.
Facis Forum News, August,