Did they have better state legislatures in those days? That system would be better only if the state legislatures were more honest, wiser, had better judgment and less self-interest than the voters who elected them. Which seems unlikely -- there's a reason for all those jokes about the stupidity and venality of state legislators!
“Did they have better state legislatures in those days?”
Maybe. Maybe not. But with the spontaneous electronic communications of modern society there is absolutely NO REASON that people can’t be more involved in the process.