But we turn from this view to the free vote, now proposed to us as an instrument for the improvement of elections and amendment of representation. Its advantages over the majority vote may be roughly stated as follows:

1. It reduces greatly the number of candidates at popular elections, because under it parties will usually nominate only the number they are entitled to and have power to elect. Surplus candidates will not commonly be run, and but few persons will be beaten in struggles for place.

2. It secures nearly complete representation of the whole body of voters in plural elections, by permitting each considerable interest of political society to take to itself its just share of representation by its own votes.

3. It reduces enormously the expense of election contests,-not the legal charges borne by the public, but voluntary outlays by parties and candidates. These will no longer be required to subsidize the floating vote-the balance-of-power vote—the mercenary or impressionable vote-of a district or constituency, as the indispensable condition of success. Whether applied to legal elections or to primary ones; to elections to office or to nominations for office, in this regard its effect will be the sameto produce, comparatively, cheap elections.

4. It is a powerful check upon all forms of corruption and undue influence at elections, because it takes away

the motive, or most of the motive, to corrupt or pervert them in rendering all ordinary efforts to that end unavailing and useless.

5. It produces satisfaction to voters in gratifying their desire for representation, and thus increases their attachment to the government under which they live.

6. It permits the representation of a greater variety of opinions and interests in legislative bodies, without impairing the right and power of the majority to rule.

7. It will often continue fit and able men much longer in public service than is now possible, because they will not hold their places subject so much to fluctuation of power between parties as to changed preferences in their own party.

8. It will greatly reduce party violence, and give a kindlier tone to social relations among the people, without producing stagnation or indifference to public affairs. In this, as in other cases, justice means peace, but it does not mean stagnation; for it is beyond question that reformed voting “wakes to newness of life,to activity and interest in public affairs, large numbers of persons who, under majority-voting, are inert because disgusted or discouraged by their exclusion from representation. Upon this point Mr. Buxton spoke wisely and soundly in Parliament in the Reform debates of 1867.*

9. It discourages election cheats, whether in the giving, receiving, counting, or returning of votes, because by it the effect of cheating is greatly reduced. And, for a like reason, it also discourages the trading of votes, or bartering of the electoral privilege.

10. It is adapted to the bolting of nominations by an aggrieved interest, for such interest, if of respectable size, can represent, by its own votes, without disturbing or changing the whole result of an election.

11. It renders elections more independent of each other. No one will much influence another; each one will be determined upon its own merits, or upon the issues directly

* Appendix, p. 279.
† See case of Northumberland borough election, post, 251.

involved in it, and not with reference to its effect upon other elections.

12. Lastly, it is a certain remedy for the evil of gerrymandering in the formation of Congressional districts, and may be made to remedy, partially or completely, the same evil, in apportionments for members of State Legislatures.

Rightly understood, the free vote is not a plan of minority representation. It is, on the contrary, a plan for the representation of successive majorities in plural elections, by which will be realized, more fully than ever before, our fundamental principle of government by the people.*

It only remains to add, in this place, that in order that this or any other plan of reformed voting shall be thoroughly effectual, it must not stop with the legal elections, but must extend to the primary ones also. In fact, upon plans for the nomination of candidates to office must be fought out the ultimate battle of electoral reform.

* Letter to Secretary Jordan, post, p. 182.




JULY 11, 1867.*

THE Senate having under consideration Senate bill No. 131, to give effect to an act entitled “ An act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March 2, 1867, Mr. BUCKALEW proposed the following amendment as a new section :

SEC. — And be it further enacted, That in the election of Representatives in Congress from the said States mentioned in the act of March 2, 1867, each elector shall be entitled to give as many votes as there are Representatives assigned to his State by apportionment of law, and he may give one vote to each of the requisite number of persons to be chosen, or may cumulate his votes and bestow them at his discretion upon one or more candidates less in number than the whole number of Representatives to be chosen from such State.

After prolonged debate and a vote of the Senate on a question of order, Mr. BUCKALEW delivered the following speech for cumulative voting and in vindication of the amendment which he had proposed :

* Congressional Globe, 1st Sess. 40th Cong. 575.

Mr. BUCKALEW. The Senate has furnished me a very good argument against the passage of this bill. I think no bill of this kind should be passed and placed upon our statute-book which does not contain the proposition covered by my amendment; and I propose to enter upon an exposition of that amendment and a statement of the arguments by which it is supported.

The plan of cumulative voting has been thoroughly discussed in Great Britain, and is perhaps better understood in that country than in our own. What is it? Where more persons than one are to be elected or chosen by a body of electors, the first idea is that each elector may have votes equal in number to the number of persons to be chosen. Formerly in this country we elected members of Congress in the several States by what was called a general ticket, under which plan each voter in the State voted for as many candidates as there were Representatives in Congress to be chosen from his State, giving to each candidate one vote. That was the system which obtained throughout the United States. In process of time it came to be discovered that this plan of choosing Representatives in Congress by general ticket was a complete and perfect mode of stifling the voice of the minority within a State. A political majority of only five hundred votes in such a State as New York might send twenty-five or thirty members to the lower House of Congress, while the large mass of the minority voters were entirely disfranchised, although nearly as numerous as those who were thus represented in the other House.

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