the proposal is that a district-unit vote
would still disfranchise many voters.
Some maintain that only a direct popular vote would enable every vote to
have an equal count.
The question of gerrymandering
was again discussed, some senators
pointing out that state legislatures
would be unreasonably tempted to
rearrange their districts in order to
include just the votes they desire those
districts to contain. Mr. Daniel replied by saying, "I understand the
Senator from Illinois [Paul H. Douglas, Chicago] is worried about some
states which might gerrymander their
districts, and may not set up their
congressional districts as they should.
In some states which adopt as an alternative the Mundt-Coudert plan it
might give the Senator some concern.
"But Section 4 of Article I of the
Constitution provides as follows:
The times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall he prescribed in each state hy
the legislature thereof; hut the Congress
may at any time hy law make or alter
such regulations, except as to the places of
"So, it would seem to me that if any
of the states misuse this power in
electing electors by congressional districts, that is, by gerrymandering their
congressional districts, Congress
would have the right to do something
Senator Douglas spoke at length,
producing many tables and charts, illustrating his belief that big cities are
actually underrepresented in the
House of Representatives and state
legislatures. Therefore, not only would
the large cities and districts be unable
to enact such legislation to correct
gerrymandering, but the entire compromise would take away the only-
slight advantage the big states and big
cities have in the election of a President ancl Vice President.
The objection to the 40 per cent
plurality vote in the Daniel-Mundt
amendment was met first by a change
back to provision for a majority electoral vote in the compromise plan. But
information made available to the
Senate indicated that if a majority
vote were necessary, eight and possibly nine of the last nineteen elections would have been decided in
Congress. Knowing that a congressional decision would be so easily
possible, third parties would be more
powerful, ancl would hold the balance
of power in many elections.
Later a modification offered by Sen-
retstonal Record. March 20, 1956, p. 4576.
ator Olin D. Johnston of South Carolina was accepted by the sponsors of
the compromise to the effect that a 45
per cent vote would be necessary for
election, and this provision is included
in the present form of the Daniel-
Another major objection to the compromise is that under the dual system
the combinations which are possible
are almost limitless — in fact, two
raised to the forty-eighth power, or
over 281 trillion! Senator Douglas
demonstrated various outcomes of the
last election if certain combinations of
the two systems had been used.
Thus, in almost any election, except
a huge popular landslide;, with the
same number of votes in exactly the
same states, districts, counties, wards,
ancl precincts, a range of results
stretching from a Republican landslide, to stalemate, to a Democratic
landslide could happen, depending on
which alternative the individual states
Perhaps the most vital objection to
S. J. Res. 31, in its compromise form,
is that, although some of the main
evils of the present system are solved
by it, several other problems would
arise, and several factors would remain
unknown. In the opinion of Senator
John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts,
"The world situation does not permit
us to take the risk of experimenting
with the constitutional system that is
fundamental to our strength and leadership, particularly without full knowledge of the effects of such changes."
He reiterated the best points of the
present system, including the fact it is
a federal, two-party system; one which
has, except in one actually valid instance — discounting outright corruption — elected a President by a plurality of the popular vote; and one which
gives both large states and small states
certain advantages ancl disadvantages
that offset each other. "Why should we
in Congress be in such a hurry to
adopt a drastic constitutional amendment which most of the voters do not
know we are considering, and which
they have certainly not demanded?"17
Along with this statement was presented the idea that if neither of the
separate proposals was good enough to
carry a two-thirds vote of the Senate,
then a combination of the two was still
not good enough to gain the confidence of the Senate. As Senator Kennedy put it, "In short, tbe Congress of
the United States is to say to the
ressional Record. March 2fi. 1956, p. 4976.
- ttional Record, March 20, 1956, pp.
states, "We cannot agree on any single
system for electoral reform, and in fact
we do not approve of either one of
them; therefore, we are giving you
your choice.' "18
The Humphrey Amendments
From time to time over a period of
years Senator Humphrey has sponsored an amendment for electoral reform incorporating the direct vote
method of election. Before the final
debates on the Daniel-Mundt corn-
promise, Senator Humphrey again
placed before the Senate this amendment, which he intends to propose at
a later date. He claims it is the most
democratic procedure possible. Sine*
this amendment was not on the calendar of unfinished business, it has no'
been debated, but will be discussed
when it is formally proposed.
The main points of this direct election method include:
(1) Abolition of the electoral college.
(2) Provision of a direct vote of the
people for President and Vice President in a general election held in each
(3) A plurality of at least 40 p?r
cent would be necessary for election'
(4) If no candidate for President
receives 40 per cent of the popul*J
vote, or if two candidates have 40 per
cent or more but tie, the selection
would be made by the House of ReP'
(5) In a similar case involving tn*
Vice President, the Senate would
make the selection.
Immediately after placing this pi**
before the Senate, Senator Humphrey
offered another amendment involving
the direct vote, cosponsored by Sen*'
tors Lehman, James E. Murray °
Montana, and Richard L. Neubergef
Provisions for this second Hun1'
phrey amendment would:
(1) Eliminate the electoral colli"-1'
and the electors as such.
(2) Retain the numerical stieii'-1''
of both houses of Congress, 53b **
the numerical basis for determin'"'"
the election of Presidents and ^l
(3) Assign two electoral votes ',
the candidate winning the plurality
popular votes in each state.
(4) Divide the remaining block ''
435 votes according to the propoi't'1"
ol popular votes received by each c*"
didate on a nationwide basis.
Facts Forum News, August, 1®