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October 1968

Membership... Is Every Member's Business
From the President's Desk (Elaine Vik)
In Memory of Dr. Eldon R. Dykes
Your League Takes Action
Finance Drive Is on its Way!
Food for Thought
LWV Calendar of Events - 1968-1969
LWV of Honolulu - Program -- 1968-1969
Unit Officers
New Members
Coming in October
House Will Elect Next President of the U.S.





The above headline could happen. It did happen in 1800 and 1824, It could have happened in 1876 (Tilden-Hayes) but that election was a national scandal. It was the Reconstruction era; there were voting irregularities, contested elections, etc, in the South. The situation was so bad that a special Electoral Commission was created instead of the election being decided in the House.

Do you think you are voting for a President and Vice-president in the November election? No such thing. You will be voting for a slate of Electors. It is important to remember that electors are elected or appointed in such manner as the State Legislatures shall direct, In the early days of the country, some states changed the method at each election, and could legally do so now if they wished. Electors, though pledged to a candidate, are not legally bound to vote for him and can disregard the election results completely. In practice all electoral votes of a state go to the party which receives a majority of votes in that state. But in 1912 with T. Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson running there were some electors who disregarded this practice. Each state has two Electors to correspond to its two Senators and as many electors as it has Congressmen, Hawaii has 4; five states and D.C. have the smallest number, 3. New York has the most, 43.

The Electoral College never meets as a national body. Electors are state officers who are nominated and elected in accordance with state law, They meet at their state capitals the second Wednesday in December (of election years) to cast their ballots, The results are sent by registered mail to the President of the Senate. At least 269 votes are needed for election. If no candidate succeeds, the election of PRESIDENT goes to the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. It votes, by secret ballot, for the candidates who have received the most electoral votes. Each state has ONE VOTE. Representatives of each state decide among themselves ---majority rules; if a tie results, the state loses its vote. The winner must have the votes of at least 26 states.

The VICE-PRESIDENT would be elected in the SENATE. Senators vote as individuals on the top 2 candidates. For election 52 votes are necessary. It would be possible for the House to be voting on Humphrey, Nixon, and Wallace for President and the Senate would be voting on Humphrey and Nixon for Vice President. Should be interesting.

If there is a Democratic majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate or vice-versa, could we get a President of one party and a Vice-President of another party? This did happen in 1796 in an election that didn't even go to the House, (Electors originally exercised considerable freedom.)

Even the Founding Fathers were not too pleased with the device of the Electoral College. It was thought up by an 11 member committee after the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked over how to elect a President. It has been criticized ever since and many efforts have been made to reform it.

What had to be considered at that time was a sparsely settled country much larger than any European country, primitive communication, fierce state partisanship and determination to keep the Executive independent of the other branches of government. And a compelling argument against direct election of the President was that more people were qualified to vote in the North since the South had a large proportion of slaves. Is it time for a change? Does this system really matter. If it is important to change why does Congress drag its feet about changing?

Party conventions had not yet been invented. They are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. The field was wide open and it was anticipated that the people in each state would choose someone from that state. The Electors were to be excellent men acquainted with candidates eminent on a national scale, thus in a position to make a wise choice. In other words, they would nominate. It was thought there would still be so many candidates in the running at this point, the Electors would not be able to give a majority vote to anyone. So the decision would be passed to the House of Representatives, who would actually elect.

Originally the electors each had two votes. The candidate who got the most votes was declared President, whoever come in second was vice President. This was to insure that the V.P. would also be of presidential caliber in case he should assume that office, But political parties were soon formed. They sometimes chose inferior men for V.P which led to complicated maneuvering to keep the opposition Party from voting in these second choices as Pres. The XII Amendment was passed in 1804; it provided that each office should be voted upon separately.

Note: In July, 1968, a campaign was started to neutralize George Wallace and avoid throwing the presidential election into a deadlocked House. Reps. Charles Goodell, (R)-N.Y. and Morris Udall (D) Ariz started it. They hope to have a compact signed by members of the two major Parties and by candidates for House seats in the 91st Congress. If the election does go to the House, signers would vote for the candidate who won the highest popular vote, regardless of party. Overwhelming enthusiasm has yet to greet this plan.

Note: In early July, 1968, a 3-judge Federal court in Virginia was asked to change the electoral system. A suit was filed by the American Good Government Society to have Virginia's general ticket system he declared in violation of the Constitution. This involves Virginia only, but the system—winner-take-all- is the same used in all the states. Nothing more has been heard of this. The states already have the power to change, for instance to the district system. But one state, using a different system than the rest of the country is at a disadvantage. The district system was once the preferred plan, but when some states used the general ticket system, the others had to conform in self-defense.

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