Electoral College

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Romney-Biden 2012?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The most interesting presidential election in U.S. history may have been the fourth, wherein Thomas Jefferson won. Sort of. How Jefferson got to be president may be relevant in this election, which is now so close that some wonder what would happen if there were an Electoral College stalemate, 269 votes for Romney and 269 for Obama. (Remember, it’s the electors who count, not the popular vote.)

In 1800, because of a constitutional glitch, Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr got the same number of electors, and the whole issue went to the House, which the Federalists still controlled, and it took a lot of negotiations and in-fighting to put Jefferson in office as the president.

The 12th Amendment settled the VP glitch, and cooked up a solution to the possibility of an Electoral College tie, as well. It’s never been used.

If, this Tuesday, the distribution of the popular vote forces the Electoral College into stalemate, the 12th Amendment would kick in, and the House would vote in a peculiar fashion (one vote per state), to select the President — Romney, considering the complexion of that body. Then the Senate would select the Vice President — Biden, considering the complexion of that body.

A wild finish, but it could get even wilder. In 1972, an elector jumped ship, voting for the Libertarian Party’s John Hospers/Tonie Nathan ticket (making Nathan the first woman to receive an electoral vote). Even against state laws forbidding it, a similar jump for Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein — or Ron Paul — might complicate further. Or simplify.

Happy voting.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.