The Green Papers
The Green Papers
Historical Data

The Ferris National Primary Bill of 1914

The National Primary Bill of 1914, as introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Congressman Scott Ferris [Democrat-Oklahoma] during the Second ('long') Session of the 63rd Congress [as H.R. 1687]), would have (had it ever become Law, which it did not) mandated the following:

  1. that all delegates to National Party Conventions be directly selected by the Party's own members (this provision, presumably, mandating Presidential Primaries in every State of the Union)
  2. that the voters in such Presidential Primaries in each State:
    1. be either registered members of the Party in question or (in those States in which voters were not formally registered by Party) swear an oath that he would affiliate with said Party through his vote for that Party's candidates at the ensuing General Election; and
    2. ever be permitted to indicate a first, second and (if the number of presidential contenders were to allow for it) third choice for President via his Presidential Primary ballot (thus, this bill would have also mandated the use of a so-called 'Preferential'-style Primary ballot [please see the notes re: 'Preferential' at the head of the table on our site's page re: Dates of DIRECT PRIMARY Elections re: Major Party Nominations for Statewide and/or Federal Office for more about this particular type of Primary Election])
  3. that the number of delegates to a Party's National Convention be either based solely on the relative population of the States (or equivalent jurisdictions) so represented at said Convention or on the relative support for the Party itself at the most recent General Election in each State (the one of these two methods utilized to be solely determined by the national central governing body of each Party [that is: a Party's 'National Committee'])
  4. that the determination of the time and place of each Party's National Convention be solely in the hands of the Party's own National Committee.
  5. that the Party's national Platform be only that adopted by each Party's National Convention every four years.
  6. that the dates of each Presidential Primary be set by the central committee of the Party in each State, but that the Presidential Primary itself be conducted under State Law.
  7. that
    1. any given delegation to the National Convention vote as a unit for the presidential contender with the most votes as 'first choice' of the voters in the Presidential Primary in that State unless otherwise directed by a majority of the central committee of the Party in that State (or equivalent) or a certain number of ballots (Congressman Ferris himself suggested 25 [!!]) on Roll Call of the States on Presidential Nomination have been taken at the Convention without any such direction; and,
    2. in no case, shall the delegates from a given State vote on any Roll Call ballot on Presidential Nomination for any presidential contender other than the first, second or third choices of the voters in the Presidential Primary held in that State.
  8. that the presidential nominee of the Party shall be that presidential contender who first gains both the majority of the votes of the individual delegates to the Party's National Convention and a majority of the delegations represented at that Party's National Convention on any Roll Call ballot on Presidential Nomination.
  9. that the Governors of the several States be empowered to enforce the National Primary Bill (should it become Law) where the Legislature of a given State be derelict in its own duty to adopt any and all necessary enabling legislation implementing the provisions of the National Primary Bill in that State within a reasonable amount of time after its passage.
  10. that the returns of the Presidential Primary in each State be formally certified by the Governors in each State to the central committees of each Party in that State.

Modified .