History of the Seventeenth Amendment
The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution established direct election of United States senators by vote. The 17th Amendment states:
“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. 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. 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.” ("The Constitution of the United States," Amendment XVII).
The Framers of the Constitution did not intend for senators to be elected in this way. The 17th Amendment was created to avoid a continuous issue in the past. Originally, Article I, section 3, of the Constitution allowed voters to cast votes directly through state legislatures. The Constitution gave the states the right to elect senators, but there were too many vacancies and no elected senators. Vacancies in the Senate could last
for months to a year:
One Progressive response to these concerns was the "Oregon system," which utilized a state primary election to identify the voters’ choice for Senator while pledging all candidates for the state legislature to honor the primary’s result. Over half of the states adopted the "Oregon system," but the 1912 Senate investigation...