Thursday, January 9, 1997
Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, Today, I am proud to introduce, along with Congressman Wise from West Virginia, a constitutional amendment that seeks to end the arcane and obsolete institution known as the electoral college.
It is no accident that this bill is being introduced today, the day that the electoral ballots are opened and counted in the presence of the House and Senate. I hope that the timing of this bill's introduction will only underscore the fact that the time has come to put an end to this archaic practice that we must endure every 4 years.
Only the President and the Vice President of the United States are currently elected indirectly by the electoral college--and not by the voting citizens of this country. All other elected officials, from the local officeholder up to U.S. Senator, are elected directly by the people.
Our bill will replace the complicated electoral college system with the simple method of using the popular vote to decide the winner of a Presidential election. By switching to a direct voting system, we can avoid the result of electing a President who failed to win the popular vote. This out come has, in fact, occurred three times in our history and resulted in the elections of John Quincy Adams, 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes, 1876, and Benjamin Harrison, 1888.
In addition to the problem of electing a President who failed to receive the popular vote, the electoral college system also allows for the peculiar possibility of having Congress decide the outcome should a Presidential ticket fail to receive a majority of the electoral college votes. Should this happen, the 12th amendment requires the House of Representatives to elect a President and the Senate to elect a Vice President. Such an occurrence would clearly not be in the best interest of the people, for they would be denied the ability to directly elect those who serve in our highest offices.
This bill will put to rest the electoral college and its potential for creating contrary and singular election results. And, it is introduced not without historical precedent. In 1969, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill calling for the abolition of the electoral college and putting a system of direct election in its place. Despite passing the House by a vote of 338 to 70, the bill got bogged down in the Senate where a filibuster blocked its progress.
So, it is in the spirit of this previous action that we introduce legislation to end the electoral college. I am hopeful that our fellow members on both sides of the aisle will stand with us by cosponsoring this important piece of legislation.