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October 2014 Policy Study, Number 14-6


Should We Restore Bicameralism?


Amend Ind. Code § 3-10-1-4(a)(1)



Another option in addition to convening a constitutional convention is for the General Assembly to amend the statute that established primary elections for Senate candidates.[32]  Under the 17th Amendment, senators must be elected through popular election, but the manner of choosing the party nominees that compete in the general election is left to states, and states do not need to use direct primaries.[33] Indiana has chosen to use a primary election to select senate nominees for any party that received at least 10 percent of the vote in the most recent Secretary of State race.[34] Currently, most states, including Indiana, select their party nominees through a direct primary, while the remaining four states use party conventions in some capacity.  For example, party nominees were historically chosen in Utah through party conventions, but if no candidate receives 60 percent of the vote of the delegates, the state holds a run-off election.[35]


Indiana could amend its statute to allow each party’s legislative caucus to choose its nominee for the general election.  The people would then vote on the candidates in November at the general election in accordance with the 17th Amendment.  To ensure that third-party candidates still have access to the ballot, third-party candidates could be selected by the procedures currently in place if their party has no members in the state legislature.[36]  In addition to being permissible under the 17th Amendment and Article I, 4, Clause 1, the amended process would have several important benefits.




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