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45 Disputed Elections

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45. DISPUTED ELECTIONS. On four occasions the electoral colleges have failed in the task of choosing a President and Vice-President. In 1801, after the counting of the electoral vote, the question was left to settle which of the two men, Jefferson or Burr, should be President, and which Vice-President. In 1825 it re mained to choose a President from among the three candidates, Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and William H. Crawford. In 1837 it was left to determine whether Richard M. Johnson or Francis Granger should be Vice President. In all these cases the difficulty was merely that the electors had so distributed their votes that the choice was incomplete. And the Constitution of the United States pointed out the procedure by which to complete it. The fourth case arose in 1877. The task was now thrust upon the government of deciding between rival electoral colleges in four States. This would determine whether Samuel J. Tilden and Thomas A. Hendricks, the candidates of the Democrat party, or Rutherford B. Hayes and William A. Wheeler, who were the Republican candidates, should become President and Vice President respectively. There was no agency provided by the Constitution or laws to decide such a question.

The dispute of 1801 was a natural result of the rule laid down in the Constitution for the procedure of the electors. Each elector should vote for two persons. The person found to have the greatest number of votes should be the President, provided such number was a majority of the whole number of electors. The person having the next greatest number should be the Vice-President. But since a majority of the electors might be only one more than a 9uarter of the votes, and each elector cast two, it was possible for two persons to receive an equal majority vote. The constitutional pro vision for this contingency was that the House of Representatives should immediately choose by ballot one of the two persons for President. This vote must be taken by States, and the rep resentation from each State should have one vote. A majority of the States was necessary to a choice. The official count of the electoral votes was made before the two Houses of Con gress as prescribed by the Constitution. This was done on Wednesday 12 February, Jefferson himself presiding. There were 138 electors and 276 votes. The vote was distributed as follows: Thomas Jefferson, 73; Aaron Burr, 73; John Adams, 65; Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 64; John Jay, 1. It had been anticipated that the

electoral vote would not be decisive. Two days before the count the House of Representatives had adopted rules of order for the expected election. The representatives should be grouped by States, in order to determine for whom the vote of each State was to be cast. If the pre liminary vote of any State resulted in a tie, that delegation could only cast a ballot marked ((divided." Each State should appoint one teller. Two ballot boxes should be used and each dele gation should cast its ballot in duplicate. The tellers should be divided into two groups, one to examine the votes in each ballot box. The Senate was to be admitted. The House should not adjourn until the erection was complete. Immediately after the count the House of Rep resentatives began to vote for a choice between Jefferson and Burr. By midnight 19 ballots had been taken. The sitting continued' until 11 o'clock the next day, nine ballots being taken on 12 February. The rile against adjournment was now evaded by taking a recess. One ballot was taken 13 February, four on the 14th, one on the 16th and two on the 17th. From the beginning eight States cast their ballots for Jef ferson. These were New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Six voted for Burr. These were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and South Carolina. The remaining two, Vermont and Maryland, were divided. Nine States were necessary to a choice. The House was Fed eralist, while both of the candidates belonged to the other party. The chief issue was the commercial policy of the next administration. As Jefferson came from Virginia and Burr from New York, New England stood by the latter. Burr did not receive the vote of his own State. This was due to Hamilton's influence. Prior to the 36th ballot, which was taken 17 February, some assurance was given on the question of the commercial policy. Vermont and Maryland now voted for Jefferson. At the same time South Carolina and Delaware cast blank bal lots. Jefferson was thus chosen President by the vote of 10 States. Burr became Vice President. Before the next Presidential elec tion, the Constitution was amended to prevent the recurrence of such a dispute. The new amendment declares that the electors shall name in their ballots the person voted for as Presi dent and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President.

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