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Deals with separate ballots

The person gaining the most votes if a majority would become president. The runner-up presumably the second-most-qualified person would become vice president. The Constitution also provided that the House would choose in case of a tie vote between two candidates each of whom had received a majority of votes.

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All of these features were on display in The election of was one of the most important in American history and, arguably, even in world history, for it represented the first time that an incumbent leader was defeated in an election. His Vice President was Thomas Jefferson. The Federalist Party electors figured out that it was important not to cast both of their votes for Adams and Pinckney, for that would create a tie and, if both got a majority of the vote, throw the election into the House; the Democratic-Republican electors were not so sagacious. The tie vote exposed deep problems in the system.

And what if a state had an even number of representatives who split evening on their choice? Given that there were 16 states in the Union in , nine delegations had to agree on their choice. Only on the 36th ballot did Bayard agree to vote for Jefferson and to break the deadlock by which time at least two Jeffersonian governors, from Pennsylvania and Virginia, were threatening to call out their state militias and order them to march on the new national capitol in Washington, D.

Jefferson was peacefully inaugurated on March 4, and the all-important precedent was set for peaceful transfer of power. Yet the original electoral college system was exposed as problematic, and there was widespread agreement that something had to be done. But what? That was rejected in and did not become a serious possibility in the early 19th century nor, of course, has it been adopted since then.

U. S. Electoral College: Presidential Election Laws

Still, it had become clear that political parties had become a feature of American politics and that the electoral college system should be modified to reflect this. How was this accomplished? The Twelfth Amendment was proposed by the Eighth Congress on December 9, and submitted to the states three days later.

There being seventeen states in the Union at that time, thirteen had to ratify it. Secretary of State James Madison declared that the Amendment had been added to the Constitution on September 25, , at which time fourteen of the seventeen states had ratified it. Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts had rejected it though Massachusetts in fact ratified it in ! The election of and all subsequent elections were carried out under the terms of the Twelfth Amendment.

Tally of Electoral Votes for the 1800 Presidential Election

This splitting of the presidency and vice-presidency did not go uncontested. At least two senators expressed their reservations about the quality of vice presidential candidates. Is he honest? They will seek a man of moderate talents. In addition to its implicit recognition of the existence of political parties, the Amendment made another important change: The original Constitution provided that the failure of any candidate to achieve a majority would require the House to choose as president one of the five top-ranking candidates, with the person coming in second to serve as vice-president unless there was tie for second place, in which case the Senate would choose between them.

Now, however, the House would choose only the President from the top three choices of the electors; the Senate would now choose the Vice President from the top two choices of the electors for that specific office. Among other things, this guaranteed, in effect, that there would always be a vice president, who could presumably take the reins of the presidency should the House be hopelessly divided among the top three candidates for the presidency. This aspect of the Twelfth Amendment became crucial in , the only time since that the House in fact selected the president as the result of the inability of any of the presidential candidates to achieve a majority of electoral votes.


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Under the original Constitution, the House would have been able to choose among all four, and one might plausibly believe that Clay might have prevailed. Under the Twelfth Amendment, however, Clay was out of the running, and the choice was reduced to Jackson, Adams, and Crawford.

Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o'clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer.


  1. Vice President of the United States.
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  3. Amendment XII - The United States Constitution;
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  8. Upon such reading of any such certificate or paper, the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any. Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received. When all objections so made to any vote or paper from a State shall have been received and read, the Senate shall thereupon withdraw, and such objections shall be submitted to the Senate for its decision; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall, in like manner, submit such objections to the House of Representatives for its decision; and no electoral vote or votes from any State which shall have been regularly given by electors whose appointment has been lawfully certified to according to section 6 of this title from which but one return has been received shall be rejected, but the two Houses concurrently may reject the vote or votes when they agree that such vote or votes have not been so regularly given by electors whose appointment has been so certified.

    But if the two Houses shall disagree in respect of the counting of such votes, then, and in that case, the votes of the electors whose appointment shall have been certified by the executive of the State, under the seal thereof, shall be counted. When the two Houses have voted, they shall immediately again meet, and the presiding officer shall then announce the decision of the questions submitted.

    No votes or papers from any other State shall be acted upon until the objections previously made to the votes or papers from any State shall have been finally disposed of. At such joint meeting of the two Houses seats shall be provided as follows: For the President of the Senate, the Speaker's chair; for the Speaker, immediately upon his left; the Senators, in the body of the Hall upon the right of the presiding officer; for the Representatives, in the body of the Hall not provided for the Senators; for the tellers, Secretary of the Senate, and Clerk of the House of Representatives, at the Clerk's desk; for the other officers of the two Houses, in front of the Clerk's desk and upon each side of the Speaker's platform.

    Such joint meeting shall not be dissolved until the count of electoral votes shall be completed and the result declared; and no recess shall be taken unless a question shall have arisen in regard to counting any such votes, or otherwise under this subchapter, in which case it shall be competent for either House, acting separately, in the manner herein before provided, to direct a recess of such House not beyond the next calendar day, Sunday excepted, at the hour of 10 o'clock in the forenoon.

    But if the counting of the electoral votes and the declaration of the result shall not have been completed before the fifth calendar day next after such first meeting of the two Houses, no further or other recess shall be taken by either House. When the two Houses separate to decide upon an objection that may have been made to the counting of any electoral vote or votes from any State, or other question arising in the matter, each Senator and Representative may speak to such objection or question five minutes, and not more than once; but after such debate shall have lasted two hours it shall be the duty of the presiding officer of each House to put the main question without further debate.

    While the two Houses shall be in meeting as provided in this chapter, the President of the Senate shall have power to preserve order; and no debate shall be allowed and no question shall be put by the presiding officer except to either House on a motion to withdraw.

    Vacancy in offices of both president and vice president; officers eligible to act. Subsection d of this section shall apply only to officers appointed, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, prior to the time of the death, resignation, removal from office, inability, or failure to qualify, of the President pro tempore, and only to officers not under impeachment by the House of Representatives at the time the powers and duties of the office of President devolve upon them.

    The only evidence of a refusal to accept, or of a resignation of the office of President or Vice President, shall be an instrument in writing, declaring the same, and subscribed by the person refusing to accept or resigning, as the case may be, and delivered into the office of the Secretary of State. Reorganization Plan No.

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    Search the U. Electoral College. The Presidential Election is on Tuesday, November 3, Fourteenth Amendment Section 3. Fifteenth Amendment Section 1. Nineteenth Amendment The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

    Twentieth Amendment Section 1. Twenty-Second Amendment Section 1. Twenty-Third Amendment Section 1. Twenty-Fourth Amendment Section 1. Twenty-Fifth Amendment Section 1. Twenty-Sixth Amendment Section 1. Failure to make choice on prescribed day. Number of electors. Vacancies in electoral college. Determination of controversy as to appointment of electors. Credentials of electors; transmission to Archivist of the United States and to Congress; public inspection. Meeting and vote of electors. Manner of voting. Certificates of votes for President and Vice President.

    Sealing and endorsing certificates. Disposition of certificates.

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    Failure of certificates of electors to reach President of the Senate or Archivist of the United States; demand on State for certificate. Same; demand on district judge for certificate. Forfeiture for messenger's neglect of duty. Counting electoral votes in Congress. Same; seats for officers and Members of two Houses in joint meeting. Same; limit of debate in each House. Same; parliamentary procedure at joint meeting. Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act. Resignation or refusal of office. Chapter 1.