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DEBATE OF OCTOBER 31, 1888.Question: "Resolved, that presidential electors should be chosen by districts instead of on a general ticket."
Brief for the Affirmative.W. D. Clark and M. A. Kilvert.
Best general references: Stanwood's Presidential Elections, particularly chapters I, XXI, XXIV and XXVII; O'Neil's American Electoral System, particularly chapters I and XXIV.
1. At the present day the American people are confronted with the fact that the weakest point in their plan of government is the mode of choosing a president.- O'Neil's Am. El. Sys., p. 1.
2. The district system counted among its advocates during the National Convention the ablest men in the country.- Stanwood's Pres. El, chap. 1.
3. The district system has been in use, and strenuous efforts have been made by Congress and by different States to introduce it still further.- Lalor's Encyclopaedia II, 66 et seq.
4. The general ticket system unjustly gives the balance of power to a small majority, or even a plurality, in a larger state; (e. g., Pennsylvania in 1840.- Am. Almanac, 1881, p. 352.)
5. The possession of this power leads to great corruption in the large doubtful States. (e. g., Indiana in 1888.)
6. Under the district system the factional contests in a great city, like New York, could affect only local instead of national results.
7. The general ticket system is (a) sectional and dangerous; and (b) lessens political interest. Under a district system there could be no "solid South."- O'Neil, Am. Elec. Sys., p. 166.
8. Probably both Houses, and certainly the lower branch of Congress, would be in political sympathy with the President, obviating the danger of deadlocks and fixing political responsibility on one party.- G. Bradford's "The Practical Working of Our Government."
Brief for the Negative.G. H. Black, and T. Woodbury.
Best general references: Benton's Debates, Vol. V, pages 678 and 681.
1. Our present system causes no serious complaint.
2. Choice by districts has been used and abandoned, because the vote of the state might be neutralized.- Stanwood's Presidential Election, pages 63, 84, 100 and 111.
3. If the district system had been adopted, several elections would have been changed. Elections by the House would have been more common.- Congressional Record, Vol. III, part I, page 628.
4. Under the district system the President and house would be of the same party, and therefore the government would be more subject to sudden changes of popular opinion.
5. The President would sign bills favoring close electoral districts. Gerrymandering frand and contested elections would be common.
6. The present system is against centralization and the states prefer it.
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