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A Report

of the

Commission on Electoral College Reform

American Bar Association



American Bar Association

Commission on Electoral College Reform


Robert G. Storey, Chairman, Texas
Henry Bellmon, Oklahoma
Paul Freund, Massachusetts
E. Smythe Gambrell, Georgia
Ed Gossett, Texas
William T. Gossett, Michigan
William J. Jameson, Montana
Kenneth B. Keating, New York
Otto Kerner, Illinois
James C. Kirby, Jr., Illinois
James M. Nabrit, Jr., Washington, D.C.
Herman Phleger, California
C. Herman Pritchett, California
Walter P. Reuther, Michigan
Whitney North Seymour, New York

John D. Feerick, Advisor to Commission

Edward W. Kuhn, Board of Governors Liaison


American Bar Association Washington Office
1705 DeSales Street, N. W., Washington, D.C. 20036
Donald E. Channell, Director
Lowell R. Beck, Associate Director
Harry W. Swegle, Assistant Director for Public Information


The Commission on Electoral College Reform was formed by the American Bar Association at the midyear session of the House of Delegates in February, 1966. Edward W. Kuhn, then President of the American Bar Association, reported at the time that congressional and executive leaders had urged the Association to examine the subject of electoral reform. He stated that this was due in some measure to the results the American Bar Association had achieved in promoting the proposed Twenty-fifth Amendment on Presidential Inability and the Vice-Presidential Vacancy.

In selecting the members of the Commission, the American Bar Association endeavored to have different walks of life, professions, and parts of the United States represented. Thus, governors, judges, lawyers, constitutional law authorities, political scientists, and representatives from labor and management were invited to be members of the Commission. Comprising the Commission are: Henry Bellmon, the Governor of Oklahoma; Paul Freund, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; E. Smythe Gambrell, Georgia attorney and former President of the American Bar Association (1955–1956); Ed Gossett, Texas attorney and former member of Congress from Texas (1939–1951); William T. Gossett, Michigan attorney, former President of the American Bar Foundation, and former General Counsel to the Ford Motor Company; William J. Jameson, United States District Court Judge for Montana and former President of the American Bar Association (1953-1954); Kenneth B. Keating, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, former United States Representative (1947-1959), and United States Senator from New York (1959-1965); Otto E. Kerner, the Governor of Illinois; James C. Kirby, Jr., Professor of Constitutional Law, Northwestern University Law School, and former Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments of the Senate Judiciary Committee; James M. Nabrit, Jr., Deputy United States Representative to the United Nations and President of Howard Uņiversity (on leave of absence); Herman Phleger, California attorney and former Legal Advisor to the United States Department of State (1953–1957); C. Herman Pritchett, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago, on leave of absence at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and former President of the American Political Science Association; Walter P. Reuther, President of the United Automobile Workers Union and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO; and Whitney North Seymour, New York attorney and former President of the American Bar Association (1960–1961). The Commission's advisor, John D. Feerick, is a New York attorney who served as a member of the American Bar Association Conference on Presidential Inability and Succession and also as an advisor to the Special American Bar Association Committee on Presidential Inability and the Vice Presidential Vacancy. The Commission's liaison with the American Bar Association is Edward W. Kuhn, former President of the American Bar Association (1965–1966).

Upon its creation, the Commission was directed to seek a nonpartisan formula for electing a President and a Vice-President of the United States. In accordance with this direction, the Commission had its staff undertake a comprehensive study of the electoral college system. After this study was supplied to the Commission, the Commission convened in Washington, D.C., on May 19 and 20, 1966.

At these meetings the Commission explored all of the pending proposals for reform of the electoral college system of electing a President and a Vice-President. It then decided that detailed studies of a number of specific questions were necessary. During the next few months the staff collected and compiled information and data regarding these questions. It studied the electoral systems of other countries, solicited the opinions of state officials regarding various aspects of the state election laws, and consulted with numerous persons and organizations knowledgeable in the area of electoral reform. The results of this comprehensive investigation were embodied in reports and memoranda which were sent to the Commission between June and October, 1966.

The Commission reconvened in Chicago, Illinois, on October 7, 1966. At that meeting the Commission discussed the subject of electoral reform in considerable detail and reached a consensus as to what it considered to be the best method of electing a President and a Vice-President. Although there was general agreement on the recommendations, it should be understood that not every member of the Commission subscribes to every recommendation. There was, however, unanimous agreement on the need for substantial reform in the present system.

In this report the Commission submits its recommendations. In addition to setting forth and explaining the recommendations, the report includes a brief history of electoral college developments from 1787 to 1966.



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