Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8: 17th Amendment

On this date in History .... April 8, 1913:

The 17th amendment was passed, allowing voters to cast direct votes for U.S. senators, who were previously selected by state legislators. 

The founding fathers were not confident of the “common man’s” ability to elect senators so they decided the politicians of each state, who were deemed smarter and more informed, would elect the senators.   

Each state elected two senators for a six-year term.  But as political corruption, special interests and political machines moved into state politics, the elected senators were viewed as nothing but puppets.  When one party or another dominated the state for lengthy periods of time, some open senate seats went unfilled for months and years.

The "Oregon System" was tried.  In Oregon, a primary was held to get the voters' choice and then the legislature would pledge candidates based on the voters' preference.  However an investigation into corruption of this system in Illinois caused the realization that a constitutional amendment was needed to put the vote into the voters' hands and keep local politics (i.e. local corruption) out of it.

The 17th Amendment put the power of selection into the hands of the “common man”.  

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