The Two-Thirds Rule and the Unit Rule

June 21, 1926

Report Outline
Origin of the Two-Thirds Rule
Results of the Two-Thirds Rule-1855-1856
The Two-Thirds Rule in the 1860 Convention
Efforts to Rescind Two-Thirds Rule 1864-1900
The Two-Thirds Rule in Recent Conventions
Numbers of Ballots Required to Nominate
The Unit Rule in National Conventions
Movement for Reform of Democratic Rules

Two years in advance of the Democratic National Convention of 1928 a movement has been put under way for the abolishment in that convention of the two-thirds rule which has governed the nomination of Democratic candidates for President and Vice president for nearly a century.

The stated purpose of this effort is to prevent a repetition in the next convention of the deadlock in the Madison Square Garden convention, which created bitter antagonisms in the party and contributed to the Democratic defeat in the national elections of 1924. The movement looks also to abandonment of the unit rule, and thus to placing full control of all proceedings in future conventions in the hands of a majority of the delegates.

The unit rule, although in its origin no part of the two-thirds rule, may at the present time be justly considered part and parcel of it—the two rules together constituting a single system of voting in Democratic conventions. In their systems of voting is to be found the principal difference between the national gatherings of the two major parties. The Republican party has never employed either the two-thirds rule or the unit rule, all decisions in its conventions depending upon the vote of a majority of the delegates.

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