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Statement on Congressional Action on Electoral Reform.

September 30, 1969

IN FEBRUARY of this year I committed this administration to support any reform of the electoral system that removed its most negative features. I said I would support any amendment approved by Congress that would make three specific reforms in the current system: one, eliminate the problem of the "faithless elector," two, make a 40 percent margin adequate for victory, and three, reform the system so that the electoral outcome more closely reflects the popular outcome.

It was my judgment then that the approach most likely to prevail in the country would be the proportional distribution method. I thought it had the best chance of being approved by the Congress and by three-fourths of the States.

Now there is an entirely new factor to be considered if we are to have electoral reform with all necessary speed. The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly supported the direct election approach. It is clear that unless the Senate follows the lead of the House, all opportunity for reform will be lost this year and possibly for years to come.

Accordingly, because the ultimate goal of electoral reform must prevail over differences as to how best to achieve that goal, I endorse the direct election approach and urge the Senate also to adopt it. While many Senators may prefer a different method, I believe that contrary views are now a luxury--that the need for electoral reform is urgent and should be our controlling consideration. I hope, therefore, that two-thirds of the Senate will approve the House-passed amendment as promptly as possible so that all of us together can then urge the States also to give their approval.

Note: Also released was the transcript of a related news briefing held at the White House by Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania and House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford of Michigan.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Congressional Action on Electoral Reform. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239728

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