After four elections Amendment XII changed the third paragraph of Article II, It states:
THE ELECTORS SHALL MEET IN THEIR RESPECTIVE STATES AND VOTE BY BALLOT FOR PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENTS, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in heir 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 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 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-presidents, shall be the vice-president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors 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 ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-president of the United States
The main change of the amendment was to make the Electors specify which of the two persons they named was for President and which was for Vice-president. A pretext for the amendment was, if the anomaly of a tie vote were ever to happen again there would be a solution, other then the possibly of causing a disaster, but the odds of this happening again was slim to none. Surely, the politicos would learn from experience.
This may seem to be a simple change but, it wasn’t, it didn’t modify the Framers’ mode of selecting the President it destroyed it. It took what was to be a polling of a small special independent group to select our two most powerful officials and turned it into the Dog and Pony show we’re stuck with. In my opinion this amendment is very ambiguous and deceptive. Does the amendment nullify the concept of the separation of powers, does it authorize making the election a team event, does it make two contests out of one, which it does, or does it? Does it give permission to render the Presidential Electors virtually useless? Does it give the two party system the right to dominate the elections, which they have done ever since its adoption. Does it make the Vice-president subservient to the President? Does it take away an Electors constitutional right to split his vote between party lines? Does it give any group the right to conspire to control the Government? Does it give political parties the right to exist? Where are all the words hidden in the amendment that justify the changes made to the Framers mode of selecting? In my opinion, the amendment is a flawed product like many others that come out of our flawed partisan political system.
The Amendment destroys the main purpose for the manner the Electors voted. A prominent theme in writing the Constitution was controlling the accumulation of power. The way the Electors voted under Article II hindered the larger states from becoming to powerful. Example, if the elections where still controlled by Article II, and with each of the 538 Electors casting two votes for President, there would be 1076 votes cast for President. California, with its 54 Electoral votes could cast only 54 votes, for any one person for President, of the 1076 votes cast, which is 5% of the votes cast. Under Amendment XII the same 538 Electors cast only 538 votes for President. California gets to cast the same 54 votes for anyone person for President. California’s 54 votes, of the 538 cast for president, doubles its percentage of the votes cast, from 5% to 10%. Whoops! There went another part of the Framers plan down the chute.
The Framers figured more often then not the Electors would not give one person enough votes to get elected and their purpose would be more of a nominating process, with the House of Representatives being called on to make the final decision from the Electors top five choices.
The election of 1800 put the divisiveness of partisan politics in the limelight. The purpose of the Politicos became to hinder the House from ever be called on again to decide an election. They wanted to keep hidden the ugliness of partisan politics. So they did a little more frittering, and Lo and behold there was change.
The ratification of the Twelfth Amendment was a tragedy. The same Founding Fathers who labored in the constructing of the Constitution become part of a wrecking crew, that did great damage to it’s foundation, which started an erosion of it that continues by allowing themselves to be involved in the running mate scheme. There was no positive benefit for the Country, the Constitution or the People in this amendment; the only beneficiaries were the politicos. They betrayed the trust of the People and took advantage of their ignorance. The amendment was a deceptive measure that defies logic. I often wondered why the People never could explain or understand the way the President is elected. The answer is in this amendment; it simply doesn’t make good sense. The manner of electing the President has become an enigma. The most reasonable way to undo the damage the amendment done is to undo the amendment and go back to the method the Framers intended. Like the Politicos would ever give their blessing to an action of that sort.
There was a supposed outcry of indignation by the people, calling for a change, because of the deplorable partisan action of the House, in deciding the election of 1800. Which, I don’t see as a reason, but an excuse for the amendment. This thought is justified by an excerpt from the Senate’s Journal pertaining to the amendment. Mr. Butler was reported to have said - “He had been told the people of the United states called for the Amendment. How had this sense been collected? It was a difficult matter to collect their sense; the great variety of habits, the diversity of climates, the space over which they are spread, the different modes of education and different way of thinking, all render it difficult to ascertain the general sentiment, and he who says the people at large wish for this amendment, in my judgment, hazards greatly the respectability of character.”
Also From the Senate Journal regarding the simplicity of a solution: “The object of the amendment, or certainly its chief object, is to establish the designation principle; but why this, if it can readily be effected by the simple mode of placing one name first on the ballot, which is so easy to be done that it can scarcely be avoided? And if done by the doctrine of gentlemen, it so binding on the House of Representatives that if they ever doubt they are damned.”
I also found what was a smoking gun in a speech given by Senator White of Delaware: “It was foretold that the Constitution would not suit those who were coming into power; that it was obnoxious to them, or to their leaders, which in effect is the same, and the moment they should lay their hands upon it, if they could not get rid of it under the pretext of amending and altering, they would fritter it away, until but the shadow, the empty shadow, should remain.” Even before finding this passage I came to the conclusion that the Constitution was amended because the politicos did not care for the method set down by the Framers, and they just wanted to do it their way, the Constitution, the Country and the People be damned.
Who with a lick of common sense can say that the Framers’ method of electing the President and Vice-president has not been frittered away? I can see how those seeking and coming into power could see the Constitution flawed. Under Article II those coming in second stood the chance of becoming Vice-president. There are those who would love being President, but, have little desire to be second best. Such a man was John Adams; he had great disdain for the office. The Vice-presidency was to be a powerful office, not the ceremonial job it has become, by the example set by Adams. Anyone who thought they were to big of a person to be Vice-president, in my opinion, are too small of a person to be President.
The Constitution gives the members of the House of Representatives the right to select its own leader, the Speaker. It doesn’t authorize the Senate to select its own leader, it calls for a duly elected Vice-president to preside over it. Although it does provide for them to appoint a President Pro tempore, if the Vice-president became President or incapacitated in some way. For a little over 100 a years every time the Vice-president was absent from the Senate they elected a new President Pro tem. But, in 1890 the Senate decided to change their rules a bit by appointing a permanent President Pro Tem, which to me is an oxymoron, and is basically the same Constitutional job description as the Vice-president. Although the permanent President pro tem chairs the Senate he doesn’t have the power that the elected Vice-president would be expected to have. The most powerful man in the Senate is not the Constitutional Vice-president, the most powerful man has evolved to be a person selected by the members of one of the two biased groups having the greatest members. Again the Politicos usurped the Constitution, yanking its chain and breaking another link of it. By breaking any link in a chain can make the whole chain useless. Letting broken links go unprepared in the Constitution’s chain turns it into trash, making a fitting purpose for the paper it is written on to be recycled into bung fodder. How many links have the Politicos frittered away over the years? How much more remains before there is nothing left for the Constitution to cast a shadow? Who but a fool would thing their capacity to be self-serving diminishes with the passing of time?
Article II and Amendment XII are vary similar, in that the Electors are to make a list of all persons voted for, Amendment XII states: “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,” The Constitution does not call for an all or nothing vote by the Electors in the states, that has become the practice, by state statutes. If all the Electors were independent and each Electors independent vote counted individually the Politicos would lose all control over the election of President. They couldn’t stand for that. There would be no leeway for cabal intrigue and all that jazz. There is nothing wrong with the manner of electing the President as set down by the Framers. The problem is, that’s not the way we do it. Remember, the Framers method was obnoxious to the politicos, and we have allowed them to just fritter it away.