Views of Proponents of
The Langer Amendment
This is the only recent major proposal for election change which makes
provision for a national primary. Tbe
sponsor of this amendment explains
his views by saying, in reference to
the Daniel-Mundt compromise amendment:
.... The proposed amendments are
entirely unsatisfactory hecause they do not
abolish the convention method of selecting
candidates for President and Vice President. In other words, the old system of the
politicians meeting in smoke-filled rooms
and hand-picking these candidates will
continue unless my substitute is adopted.
Frankly, there is no reason why the
people should not have the right in primary election to select their candidates on
the Republican ancl Democratic tickets,
just as they now vote in primary elections
for United States senators, congressmen,
governors, and other state officials.
Most of the listeners in 1952 on television saw how in hoth Republican and
Democratic conventions the politicians
selected the candidates, and the universal
feeling of disgust that emanated from
actually seeing these conventions in operation has mounted during the last three
A direct election with a direct primary, says Senator Langer, would be
a terrific incentive for all eligible voters to vote, for they would feel that
each vote would count — not only in
the final election, but in the choice of
When asked if he thought provision
for a run-off should be included in
case a candidate did not receive a
majority vote, the sponsor of this plan
explained that such a step would not
be necessary. The proposal provides
that in order to be recognized a political party must have a petition signed
by 5 per cent of the voters. It would
be possible for a third partv- to enter a
candidate, but it would be extremely
difficult, and more difficult still for this
candidate to receive enough votes to
split appreciably the strength of the
two major parties.
This procedure would also certainly
dispose of the troublesome possibility
of election of a minority President, it
was pointed out.
Arguments Against the
The primary argument, again,
against the Langer amendment is that
a direct election would completely
erase state lines, even more so than
would the previously discussed Humphrey plan. The senators were reminded, again, that this nation is still a fed-
tressional Record. March 27. 1956, p. 5025.
WIDE WORLD PHOTO
The amendment offered by Senator William
Longer (R-N.D.I using the direct vote method
also provided for a national presidential primary.
eration of states, a republic, and that
the states should maintain their identities, even in a national election.
Another main point of disagreement
is whether or not small states would
be giving up, or would want to give
up, the advantage they have today in
the present division of electoral votes.
Senator Daniel of Texas, the largest
state, was certain that an amendment
of this nature would never be approved by a sufficient number of legislatures throughout the country to be
adopted as part of the Constitution.
There are 30 or 31 states which have
an electoral vote on the basis of their
two senators, plus their representatives
in Congress, giving them a little more
than the proportional amount of votes
they would have in a nationwide election.
Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode
Island, the smallest state in the Union,
savs the people in small states do not
necessarily want to retain the unit vote
method. He said:
I believe in popular elections. 1 believe the
President represents all the people, that lie
is not the President ot the states, hut is the
President of the people of the United
States. I have never heard anyone in a
small state lament the fact that, if wc
had popular elections, thev would lose
power. I do not think it is a question of
power; it is a question ot democratic
The question of who would pay the
expenses of the national primary was
raised, and Senator Langer answered
•'Ibid., i). 3032.
that each candidate, together with bis
friends, would bear campaign costs,
and the state governments would pay
other necessary expenses. Others
thought that Congress should bear
election expense. These provisions are
not specifically made in the amendment, and this omission was criticized,
even though the sponsor felt that such
measures could be added by the
House of Representatives, after passage by the Senate, or added in conference.
The requirement for each voter to
register with a political party also met
with criticism, since several smal'
states do not have that requirement at
present, and apparently do not want
to adopt it.
The Langer amendment was rejected.
After several days of debate in the
Senate and after the various proposals
had been thoroughly aired, the concensus seemed to be that though n°
amendment bad passed, progress haf
still been made. Senator Willi;'"1
Knowland summed it up in this state-
I think the discussion which has take'1
place has been beneficial to the Scn.it1'
and has brought the issue before the con"'
try. While it may he that there is no singh'
amendment which has as yet been proposed that coulcl secure tie necessary two-
thirds vote, I think the debate and tin'
discussion on hoth sides of the aisle he1'
indicated that there arc far more til'"1
two-thirds of the total membership of tne
Senate who believe there should he so"11-'
change in Ihe present outmoded system ("
electing, through the electoral college, tW
President of the United States/'
Is the electoral college obsolete? L"
big-city minority groups receive su"'
stantial concessions in election car"
paigns? If you favor a direct VOjfl
would you also favor a direct nation*"
primary? Does your vote really couB
Vital questions raised need to
thoroughly digested and carol"' -,
weighed before the issue of electiif'
reform comes up again. Keep '
formed; then lei vour congress"1'1
know your views. "
llttrc Yt,n voted in the Fact3
Forum Poll ott paste 64? Result*
of this monthly poll are mailetl
to congressmen, ncivspapcrs. at"'
radio stations all over the nation-
Facts Forum News, Aug