What Is the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution?


Quick Answer

The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the direct election of senators by popular vote. Before the passage of the 17th Amendment, senators were elected by state legislatures.

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Full Answer

The framers of the Constitution devised the indirect election of senators as a way to balance the popularly elected House of Representatives. They believed senators' six-year terms and responsibility to the states would give them a more detached view of legislation. By the early 20th century, reformers argued that the indirect election of senators was too prone to corruption and electoral deadlocks. They believed senators should have a greater responsibility to the people. The 17th Amendment was submitted for ratification on May 13, 1912 and ratified on April 8, 1913.

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