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Such a body would also have this preference over any mere legislature, that it would not be chosen for the ordinary functions of legislation, but singly and solely for this duty. It was supposed from these circumstances, that the choice would be more free and independent, more wise and cautious, more satisfactory, and more unbiassed by party spirit. The State Legislatures would still have an agency in the choice, by prescribing the mode, in which the Electors should be chosen, whether 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, and officers under the National Government, are disqualified from being Electors.
§ 181. The remaining clause regulates the conduct of the 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 none by the Electors. This clause is now repealed, (whether wisely or not, has been a matter of grave question among statesmen) and the following substituted in its stead — 'The Electors shall meet in 'their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 inhab'itant of the same State with themselves. They shall name in their ballots the persons 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 Govern
ment of the United States, directed to the President of the · Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the pres'ence 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 Represen
tation 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 Represen
tatives 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.' § 182.
• 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 Electors appointed. . And if no person have a majority, then from the two highest
numbers on the list the Senate shall choose the Vice Presi• dent; 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 per
son, constitutionally ineligible to the office of President, ‘shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.'
$ 183. 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 threc. 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 case shall act as President.
5 184. A few words only will be necessary, to explain the main provisions, respecting the choice of these high functionaries, since this amendment, as an elaborate examination of the subject would occupy too much space. In the first place, the Electors, as well as the House of Representatives, are to vote by ballot, and not by viva voce, or oral declaration. The object of this provision is to secure the Electors from all undue influence, and undue odium for their vote, as it was supposed, that perfect secrecy could be maintained. In the next place, both candidates 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 ensure the genuineness 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 alterations 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 their 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. But if no choice is thus made, then there is to be an equality of votes of all the States in the House of 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 first instance; and for Union among
the small States in the last resort. $ 185. There probably is no part of the plan of the framers of the Constitution, which has, practically speaking, so little realized the expectations of its friends, as that which regards the choice of President. The Electors are now commonly pledged to support a particular candidate, before they receive their own appointment; and they do no more than register the previous decrees, made by public and private meetings of citizens. 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 will hereafter be filled by those, who will gratify the private resentments, or prejudices, or selfish objects of their particular partizans, 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.
$ 186. 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.
§ 187. The next clause is — 'The Congress may determine the time of choosing the Electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; 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, has a tendency to repress political intrigues and speculations, by rendering a combination among the electoral colleges, as to their voies, more difficult, if not unavailing. This object would be still more certainly obtained, by fixing the choice of the electors themselves on the same day, and at so short a period, before they gave their votes, as to render general negotiations and arrangements nearly impracticable.
§ 188. The next clause respects the qualifications of the President; and the qualifications of the Vice President are (as we have seen) to be the same. 'No person except a nat'ural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President. Neither shall any person be eligible to the office, who shall not have attained to the age of 'thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within • the United States.'
$ 189. Considering the nature of the duties, the extent of the information, and the solid wisdom and experience, required in the executive department, no one can reasonably doubt the propriety of some qualification of age. That, which is selected is the middle of life, by which period the character and talents of individuals are generally known,