To William Bingham
[ca. August 1791]
The Legislature of Virginia chuse their Senators for Congs. as they do their State officers, by joint ballot of the two Houses.1 The ballots are first separately collected in each House & then brought together & counted by Committees from each in presence of such other members as think fit to attend, the election being decided by the major vote without regard to a distinction of Houses. It is a rule that if a majority of all the ballots does not fall on the same individual, the process is to be repeated till that happens, or rather I believe, the choice is then to be made between the two highest candidates. I am with much respect Your Mo: Obedt. servt.
Js. Madison Jr
RC (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.). Conjectured date assigned on the basis of circumstances described in n. 1.
1. In August 1791 the Pennsylvania Assembly began discussing whether U.S. senators should be elected by concurrent or joint vote of both houses. Bingham, Speaker of the state House of Representatives and a candidate for Maclay’s U.S. Senate seat, favored joint election (Harry M. Tinkcom, The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania, 1790–1801 [Harrisburg, 1950], pp. 145–49).