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ord solely for this duty. It was supposed from these circunstances, that the choice would be more free and independent, more wise and cautious, more satisfactory, and more unbiased by party spirit, than in either of the other modes. The State Legislatures would still have an agency in the choice, by prescribing the mode, in which the Electors should be chosen, whether it should be by the people at large, or in districts, or by the Legislature itself. For the purpose of excluding all undue influence in the electoral colleges, the Senators and Representatives in Congress, and all officers under the National Government are disqualified from being Electors.
§ 262. The remaining clause regulates the conduct of tne Electors, in giving and certifying their votes ; the manner of ascertaining and counting the votes in Congress; and the mode of choice, in case there is no choice made by the Electors. The original clause was as follows :
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 theinselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes 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 choose 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 choose the President. But in choosing the Presi dent the votes shall be taken by States, the representation 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 choose from them by ballot the Vice Pres
$ 263. This lause is now repealed, (whether wisely or not, has been a matter of grave question among statesmen,) and the following substituted in its stead :—70 The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with :hemselves. They shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice President. And they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice President, and of the number of votes for each; which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.
The President of the Senate shall, in 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 for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then, from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representation 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. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of the death, or other constitutional disability of the President. The person, having the greatest number of votes as Vice President, shall be the Vice President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Elect ors appointed. And if no person have a majority, then, from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice President. A quorum for the purpose shall consist of two thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person, constitutionally ineligi ble to the office of President, shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States."
$ 264. The principal differences between the original plan, and this amendment to the Constitution, are the following: First, by the original plan, two persons were voted for as President'; and after the President was chosen, the person, having the greatest number of votes of the Electors was to be Vice President; but if two or more had equal votes, the Senate were to choose the Vice President from them by ballot. By the present plan, the votes for President and Vice President are distinct. Secondly, by the original plan, in case of no choice of President by the Electors, the choice was to be made by the House of Representatives, from the five highest on the list. It is now reduced to three. Thirdly, by the original plan, the Vice President need not have a majority of all the electoral votes, but only a greater number than any
other person. It is now necessary, that he should have a majority of all the votes. Fourthly, by the original plan, the choice of Vice President could not be made until after a choice of President. It can now be made by the Senate,
as soon as it is ascertained, that there is no choice by the Electors. Fifthly, no provision was made for the case of no choice of President by the House of Representatives, before the fourth day of March next.
It is now provided that the Vice President in such a case shall act as President.
§ 265. A few words, only, will be necessary, to explain the main provisions, respecting the choice of these high functionaries, since the adoption of this amendment, as an elalvorate examination of the subject would occupy too
In the first place, the Electors, as well as the House of Representatives, are to vote by ballot, and not vivâ voce, or by oral declaration. The object of this provision, is, to secure the Electors from all undue influence, and undưe odium for their vote, as it was supposed, that perfect secrecy could be maintained. In the next place, both car.didates cannot be an inhabitant of the same State, as the Electors. The object of this clause is to suppress local partialities and combinations. In the next place, the votes are to be certified by the Electors themselves, in order to insure the genuireness of the vouchers. In the next place, they are to be sealed, and opened and counted only in presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, in order to prevent any frauds or altera tions in their transmission. In the next place, a majority of all the electoral votes is, in the first instance, required for a choice, and not a mere plurality ; thus enabling the people, in case there is no choice, to exercise through
heir Representatives a sound discretion, in selecting from the three highest candidates. It might otherwise happen, if there were many candidates, that a person, having a very small number of votes over any one of the others, might succeed against the wishes of a great majority of the people. In the next place, the House of Representatives are to vote by States, each having one vote in the choice. The choice is, as we have seen, in the first instance to be by the people of each State, according to the number of their Senators and Representatives. if no choice is thus made, then the choice devolves on the House of Representatives, and each State is to have an equal voice in the election, and to have but a single vote, whatever may be the number of its Representatives. Thus, the primary election is in effect surrendered to the large States ; and if that fails, then it is surrendered to the small States. So that an important motive is thus suggested for union among the large States in the firs: instance ; and for union among the small States in the last resort.
$ 266. There probably is no part of the plan of the framers of the Constitution, which, practically speaking, las so little realized the expectations of its friends, as that which regards the choice of President. They undoubtedly intended, that the Electors should be left free to make the choice according to their own judgement of the relative merits and quaiifications of the candidates for this high office ; and that they should be under no pledge to any popular favorite, and should be guided by no sectional influences. In both respects, the event has disappointed all these expectations. The Electors are now almost universally pledged to support a particular candidate, before they receive their own appointment; and they do little more than register the previous decrees, made by public and private meetings of the citizens of their own State. The President is in no just sense the unbiassed choice of the people, or of the States. He is commonly the representative of a party, and not of the Union ; and the danger, therefore, is, that the office may hereafter be filled by those, who will gratify the private resentments, or prejudices, or selfish objects of their particular partisans, rather than by those, who will study to fulfil the high destiny contemplated by the Constitution, and be the impartial patrons, supporters, and friends of the great interests of the whole country:
§ 267. It is observable, that the mode, in which the electoral vote of each State is to be given, is confided to the State Legislature. The mode of choice has never been uniform since the Constitution was adopted. In some States, the choice is by the people by a general ticket ; in others, by the people in electoral districts ; and in others, by the immediate choice of the State Legislature. This want of uniformity has been deemed a serious defect by many statesmen ; but, hitherto, it has remained unredressed by any constitutional amendment.
§ 268. The next clause is, “ The Congress may de termine the time of choosing the Electors, and the day, on which they shall give their otes ; which day shall be the same throughout the United States."
This measure is undoubtedly the result of sound policy. A fixed period, at which all the electoral votes shall be given on the same day, bas a tendency to repress political intrigues and