« AnteriorContinuar »
no one of them, therefore, has sought to be elected for a third term.
§ 372. The office of Vice-President was created in order that there might be some person to succeed the President in case of his removal from office, or of his death, or resignation, or his inability to discharge his duties; and also because it would furnish a presiding officer to the Senate who would be the most likely to be impartial, inasmuch as he is elected by the whole country, and does not represent a particular State.
[Clause 2.] “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”
§ 373. This clause provides the manner in which the President and Vice-President are to be chosen. They are not chosen by the people directly, but by a body of electors, who are sometimes called “the electoral college.” The framers of the Constitution believed that a small number of men, selected for that particular purpose on account of their wisdom, patriotism, and virtue, meeting separately in their respective States, would not be liable to be influenced by the excitements of a popular election, or by intrigue or corruption, would be independent in their action, well qualified to examine deliberately the merits of the candidates, and therefore likely to make a wise selection.
§ 374. It was also thought that the selection of electors by whom the immediate choice of a President and Vice President is to be made, would not lead to the tumults and disorders which the history of other countries shows us are apt to attend the election of high executive officers. $375. In many respects, the object which the framers of the Constitution sought to obtain by the system of electors has hitherto failed to be accomplished. In actual practice, the electors are chosen for the express purpose of voting for particular candidates, to do which they are sometimes even pledged beforehand; they are expected to cast their votes for those candidates only, and not to exercise any freedom of choice themselves. It may, nevertheless, sometimes happen that the selection must be really made by the electors, as, for instance, in case of the death of one or more of the candidates before the election takes place. § 376. Each State is entitled to a number of electors equal to the whole number of its senators and representatives in Congress, in order that it may have about the same influence in the choice of President and Vice-Presi. dent that it has in the national affairs transacted in Congress. The appointment of electors is to be made in-such manner as the legislature of each State shall direct. § 377. Senators, representatives, and persons holding offices of trust or profit under the United States, are excluded from being electors. Senators and representatives are frequently brought into close relations with the President and Vice-President in office, and might on that account be less independent and impartial, or become subject to their influence and control, in case they were candidates for re-election. $378. If there is no choice by the electors, the election will devolve upon the Senate and House of Representa
tives; and if members of the Senate and House have previously voted as electors, they will be less likely to be free and unbiassed in their choice as senators or representatives. Persons holding offices of trust and profit under the United States are also excluded from the electoral college, lest their official station might give them an improper influence upon the electors. The object of the provision is to prevent any interference or agency on the part of the general government in the selection of President and Vice-President.
[Clause 3.] “The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Wotes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority and have an equal number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Repre sentation from each State having one Vote; a Quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.”
$379. This clause prescribes the mode in which the electors shall proceed to vote for President and Vice-President. It has been supplied by an amended clause, as we shall see presently, but many of the original features are retained. Each electoral college, acting by itself, meets in its own State; there is, therefore, less opportunity for concert of action, intrigue, or bargaining, among the electors of the several States. Under the original clause they did not separately designate one person for President, and another person for Vice-President, but voted by the same ticket for two persons, one of whom at least, it was provided, should not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves; such a provision prevents the President and Vice-President from being inhabitants of the same State.
§ 380. They then made out a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each, which list, after being signed and certified by them, they transmitted, sealed, to the seat of government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.
$381. The President of the Senate, in the prese...ce of the Senate and House of Representatives, opened all the certificates, and the votes were then counted. The person who had the greatest number of votes was declared to be the President, provided the number of votes received by him was greater than a majority of the whole number of electors. § 382. If there were more than one who had such majority, and had an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives was required immediately to choose, by ballot, one of them for President; and if no person had a majority of the whole number of electors, then from the five highest persons on the list, the House of Representatives was in like manner to choose the President. The election of President in these cases devolves upon the House of Representatives, because that is the branch of Congress which more immediately represents the people. § 383. In choosing the President in the House of Representatives, the vote is taken by States, the entire delegation from each State having one vote; this is intended to give to each State an equal voice in the selection. A majority of all the States is necessary to a choice, and a quorum, for the purpose of an election, consists of a member, or of members, from two-thirds of the States. § 384. In every case after the choice of a President, the person having the greatest number of the votes of the electors, according to the original clause, became the VicePresident. But if there were then two or more who had an equal number of votes, it devolved upon the Senate to choose from them, by ballot, the Vice-President. The choice of the Vice-President is thus given to the Senate, chiefly because he is the presiding officer in that body. § 385. At the election of the fourth President, the