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Home > History > Amendment 17 - United States Constitution Interactive

Amendment 17 - United States Constitution Interactive

This page provides the text and interpreted text of the 17th Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is part of our interactive Constitution.

William Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan, a major proponent of the popular election of Senators

What does it Say?

1.) The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.

2.) When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

3.) This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

What does it Mean?

With the ratification of the 17th Amendment, the power of electing was transferred from the state legislature to the voting citizens of that state, which was supposed to stop the corruption that plagued previous elections.

Section 2 of the 17th Amendment allows state governments to make a temporary appointment for Senator if that position becomes vacant.

 

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