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ties at different sides of the state so connected as to crowd as many Democratic counties as possible into one district and thus secure Republican seats in nearby districts by eliminating the vote of hostile localities." The Democrats in Indiana by a shrewdly arranged gerrymander were enabled to elect, in 1892, eleven congressmen with a total vote of 259,190, leaving only two congressmen to the Republicans, who cast a vote of 253,668, thus requiring 126,834 Republican votes, as against 23,565 Democratic votes, to elect one congressman.2
The district system under the gerrymander has frequently resulted in the grossest misrepresentation of party strength in the
An illustration of "compact and contiguous territory."
1 Reinsch, American Legislatures, p. 202.
Commons, Proportional Representation, 2d ed., p. 61.
House of Representatives. For example, in 1894, the Republicans, with a vote of 5,461,202, elected 245 Representatives; the Democrats, with 4,295,748 votes, elected 104 Representatives, and the Populists, with 1,323,644 votes, elected 7 Representatives, while the Prohibitionists, with 182,679 votes, elected none. In this election the Republicans, with 48.4 per cent of the total vote, elected 68.8 per cent of the members, while the Democrats, with 38.1 per cent of the vote, elected 29.2 per cent of the members, and the Populists, with 11.7 per cent of the vote, secured only 2 per cent of the members. Taking the vote as a whole on a strict basis of equality of representation, the Republican majority of 134 should have been a minority of 7 as against all other parties.1
The term of the member of the House is two years a short period which has received so much criticism recently that it is difficult for us to understand the necessity that led the authors of The Federalist to apologize for the action of the Philadelphia convention in not providing for annual elections. The system of biennial elections, coupled with the practice of not assembling a Congress until more than a year after its election, has had a most unfortunate effect upon the character of that body. Ordinarily, when members take their seats, their term of office is practically half expired; and within a year, if they expect to continue in Congress, they must enter into a campaign for renomination and election. This may have a double effect. It diverts the attention and energy of the member from his official duties, and, if he is defeated, it leaves him disgruntled and more subject to pernicious influences. It is a well-known fact also that no member of Congress can exert a considerable influence during one term of service, since it requires a great deal of practical experience to discover the mysteries of congressional procedure and get a hearing from the leaders in the House. On the other hand there is no provision for a dissolution of the House or recall of members, and long terms might result in Congress frequently misrepresenting the country.
The time, place, and manner of holding elections for Represent
1 Commons, Proportional Representation, p. 58. It must be noted, however, that the basis of representation is not the vote, but population.
2 Unless there is an earlier special session.
Readings, p. 254.
atives may be prescribed by the state legislature subject to the provision that Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations. For almost a hundred years congressional elections were held at different times and according to the different methods prevailing in the various states the old system of viva voce voting being retained for a long time in some commonwealths. At length, Congress, by laws passed in 1871 and 1872, provided that congressional elections should be by ballot and that they should occur throughout the Union at the same time, that is, on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. An exception to the uniformity rule allows a few states to hold their elections somewhat earlier, according to their former custom.1
Party machinery has been developed in every state for nominating candidates to the House of Representatives. Where the older methods have not been overthrown by primary legislation, candidates are nominated by district conventions of delegates representing units of local government within the congressional districts, such as counties in the regions more thinly populated, and assembly districts, townships, or wards in the more thickly settled areas. In a large number of states, however, including Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oregon, Kansas, and Oklahoma," the convention system has been abolished altogether, and an official direct primary election is provided for each party. Any member of any party who wishes to be a candidate for Congress must have his name put on the party primary ballot by petition, and at the primary election the party voters are given the opportunity to select from among the several candidates on this ballot.3 Representatives-at-large are nominated by state conventions or by state primaries.
The House of Representatives and the Senate are the judges of the election, returns, and qualifications of their own members, and therefore contested elections are not determined by a judicial tribunal as in England. The House has three committees on
1 On the qualifications for voters for Representatives, see above, p. 162, and below, chap. xxii, and Readings, p. 399. They are merely the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature. 2 See below, chap. xxx. 3 When a vacancy occurs in the House of Representatives by the death or resignation of a member, or in some other way, a special election is held.
elections,' whose duty it is to investigate election contests. The law requires any person intending to contest an election to serve notice on the member whose seat he claims, and to specify the grounds upon which he expects to rely. The member whose seat is contested must answer. Copies of the papers are transmitted to the House, and the clerk makes up the records of the case, which he reports to the House. These are referred by the Speaker to one of the three committees on elections; testimony is taken; the contestants are given an opportunity to be heard, and to be represented by counsel; and on the basis of the evidence and pleadings, the committee presents to the House a report, which is usually accepted. Inasmuch as each committee on elections is composed of a majority of members from the dominant party, a contested election, where the case is not too glaring, is quite likely to be decided in the interests of that party.
The Constitution prescribes that there shall be two Senators from each state, and in the Amendment clause it provides that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of equal representation in the Senate. This rule of absolute equality grew out of the fear of Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware that the great commonwealths of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia would override them in federal matters; and out of apprehension entertained by the agricultural and slave-owning states that the numerical strength of the manufacturing and commercial states would lead to discriminating legislation. The result of this equality of representation in the Senate is a most glaring violation of the democratic principle of distributing representation with some regard to population. Thus it comes about that nine eastern states, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, with a population of over 21,000,000 (1900), have only eighteen Senators; while nine western states, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Oregon, and California, with a total population of less than 4,000,000, have the same number. New York, with over 7,000,000 inhabitants,
1 The Senate has one committee on elections.
"The committee practically has the power of a court of law.
has two, while the nine western states, with a little over half the inhabitants, have nine times the representation. Indeed, it is possible to select fifteen of the smaller states, with about 5,000,000 inhabitants, possessing fifteen times the weight of the state of New York in the Senate. "The senatorial representatives of those 5,000,000 would lack only a single vote of the number necessary to defeat some great treaty which the Senators of the other 70,000,000 might support. States having less than one-sixth of the population choose a majority of the entire Senate, while more than five-sixths of the people of the country are represented by a minority of that body. The state of Nevada under the last census had less than 43,000 people. If New York were permitted to have the same proportional representation in the Senate, it would have some 350 Senators." In practice, however, we do not find an alignment of the Senators of the small states against those of the large states.
The qualifications of the Senator are fixed by the Constitution. He must be not less than thirty years old, an inhabitant of the state for which he is elected, and a United States citizen of nine years' standing. The same question has arisen here as in the case of the House of Representatives, whether the Senate, under its power to judge of the qualifications of its members, can add any to those fixed in the Constitution. The correct answer to this question seems to have been made by Mr. Hopkins, in a speech of January 11, 1907, on the proposition to exclude Mr. Reed Smoot of Utah, on the ground that he was a polygamist. Mr. Hopkins says that neither the Senate, Congress, nor a state can add to the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution; that the power given to the Senate is not to create Senators, but to judge whether they have the qualifications prescribed by the Constitution; that the Senate has no constitutional authority to inquire into the antecedents and early career and character of a Senator who applies for admission with the proper credentials of his state; that no Senator has ever been denied a seat in the Senate of the United States because of any lapse of career prior to his election by the state; and that the Senate should content itself with the exercise of its power to
1 Reinsch, Readings, p. 139.
2 Above, p. 233. It will be noted that the Senate did not adopt the practice of the House, which was regarded as unconstitutional in many quarters.