Talk:Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution/Archive 1

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Archive 1

text of portrait

there are clear errors in the text put today under the portrait: Thomas Jefferson's name is replaced by John adams. Factually correct text would be:

Thomas Jefferson was Vice President under his political adversary, and later the House took 36 votes to determine the positions of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, third President and Vice President. The mayhem inspired the 12th Amendment. 15:47, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

In any event, it is much, much too long. -- Emsworth 15:53, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

We're tring to make captions complete sentences and explain the relevance of the image to the article. This style of caption does end up longer than captions that are not complete sentences. This one doesn't seem particularly excessive. I've corrected the factual errors. 16:56, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I think anything longer than a couple of lines is excessive and inelegant. I disagree with the changing of captions to make them explain their relevance. This is an encyclopedia, not a picture book; anyone who wishes to understand the captions must merely read the adjacent text. Lengthy captions are only appropriate when the adjacent text is not necessarily relevant to the picture. -- Emsworth 17:19, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Can you shorten those captions (or craft new ones) to an apporpriate length to help the readers survey the article and understand the relationships of Jefferson and Clay to the article? -- ke4roh 18:59, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)
I strongly feel that the adjacent text would suffice here. -- Emsworth 19:54, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I've made a new attempt, with captions that explain the relevance of the figure but in a much briefer way. Emsworth, please see Wikipedia:Captions and raise any issues about the principle of explaining relevance there. 21:10, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

While was taking another attempt at captions, I was writing here: I strongly feel that the captions should provide some context (see Wikipedia:Captions). What would you think of a compromise involving some especially short captions like "Mayhem surrounding Jackson's elections spurred the amendment?" I'm not sure I understand well enough why Clay's picture was included (as opposed to any others), so I'm not sure I can write the best caption, but I might try something like "The amendment precluded Clay's presidency." -- ke4roh 21:18, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)

The captions I have just added both (a) indicate the relevance of the image and (b) are not too long. Just noting that I absolutely oppose the reinsertion of the previous seven-line captions. -- Emsworth 00:06, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

"portrait" as verb

I have seen English texts where there is written "portraited". Actually, it is very practical. Only with 10 signs, you have a reference in, for example, a caption of picture. It makes the reference unambiguous, in cases where several names are mentioned in the text.

I admit that probably the texts I have read were American-English. However, there is no need to enforce those strict British grammar regulations here in Wikipedia. 00:12, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Merriam-Webster, WordNet from Princeton University and the American Heritage Dictionary all give portrait as a noun only (except the last, which notes the adjectival usage in relation to paper orientation). In any event, I hope you agree that the current captions meet the standards of demonstrating the image's relevance to the article and of clarity. -- Emsworth 00:25, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I would understand portraited, though I'd think it odd, and few modern dictionaries (American or British) mention that usage. I would favor "portrayed." -- ke4roh 01:16, Jul 19, 2004 (UTC)

Yes, the current captions do those things well. (And I wouldn't lengthen them for the world!) The only thing I'd do is shorten them further by making them full sentences, obviating the need for "whose" and "who". Cost: the caption doesn't explicitly state what's in the picture, but that's not a problem for human (as distinguished from computer) readers of the article. Just opening my June 2004 National Geographic Magazine to page 21, I see this caption, "A tea vendor in Najaf stops to refresh merchants who — for the first time in years — can taste prosperity. The end of trade sanctions and the return of religious tourists and students have packed hotels and filled market stalls as Najaf regains its role as a center of Shiite learning." I note that the caption leaves the reader to discern that the tea vendor is the man holding the teapot in the picture (and not any of the three customers). -- ke4roh 01:16, Jul 19, 2004 (UTC)

Electoral College under Amendment XII

Furthemore, the Twelfth Amendment explicitly precluded from being Vice President those ineligible to be President: people under thirty-five years of age, those who have not inhabited the United States for at least fourteen years, and those who are not natural-born citizens.

It may be true that the Vice President must have those qualifications (Article II, Section 1), but I don't believe that the 12th Amendment states anything about that. The actual text of the 12th amendment is here:[1] [2]. Maybe I am missing something, for I am certainly not a Constitutional expert. But if others agree, perhaps we should reword the above paragraph. (Or we could reword the 12th Amendment, since this is, after all, Wiki!)--Brim 05:58, Sep 17, 2004 (UTC)

  • See the line "But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." -- Emsworth 12:46, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm not sure how I glossed over that. —Brim 08:30, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

It's possible for the pres and VP to come from different parties, correct? even without a tied EC vote? but this would very rarely happen in practice? SpookyMulder 07:33, 27 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Theoretically it could have happened in 2000. Had the Florida dispute rumbled on to the point of no returns being made, then conceivably there would have been no electoral votes cast at all and that would have left an uncertain outcome. The Republicans controlled a sufficient majority of state delegations in the new House whilst the new Senate had a 50:50 split *and* a Democrat tie-breaker for the first seventeen days. Conceivably the Senate could have chosen Lieberman and the House Bush. Timrollpickering 19:53, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Are you sure about that? Prior to January 3, 2001, the Republicans controlled the Senate as well. If they'd held the vote prior to that point, the outgoing, Republican-majority, Senate would hold the vote, which would result in Cheney being elected VP along with Bush by the House Nik42 05:57, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes but I think the date for opening the electoral college votes came after this - wasn't it the 6th? Thus any resolution would have taken place with the new Senate composition. Timrollpickering 14:44, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Potential for constitutional crisis under the Twelfth Amendment

If the Twelfth Amendment provision for sending a Presidential Election to the House were to be invoked, there seems to be ample scope for a constitutional crisis. However the page makes no explicit mention of it.

Let me explain: If the election for President is sent to the House of Representatives, it requires a majority (with one vote per state) to choose a President. However, there is a built-in veto in the text: A quorum of two-thirds is required. Thus, dissenting states are better not voting at all than risk voting for their candidate and contributing to a quorum.

Thus if as many as 33 out of 50 states (a clear majority) choose candidate A, the remaining 17 states can veto by refusing to vote.

Likewise with the Senate choosing the Vice President.

There is a time-out on the choice of President, dated 4th March. At this point the Vice President becomes acting President. But which VP? The outgoing one, or the (possibly yet-to-be-appointed) incoming one? There is no time-out on the Senate election for VP.

Depending on the statistics, it seems that a minority in both houses could force a crisis, possibly promoting an outgoing VP from their own party to President, and possibly leaving the US without a President at all.

That was a long-winded explanation, but perhaps someone can make a concise comment on it to add to the page?

I don't know if it belongs there on the page. The March 4th date is superseded by the 20th Amendment, which moves the start of terms from March 4th to January 20th, reducing the time that this could be drawn out and presumably preventing something like is now going on in Mexico, where there is a six months' lag between the presidential election and the new term beginning, giving more time for crises to be provoked. The consensus is that the new Vice President, the one just chosen by the Senate and more likely to have been chosen since the Senators had only the top two, not the top three, to choose from, is the one meant to become Acting President, but you're right that the text does not explicitly state that; the outgoing Vice President could argue that he was the one meant by the Framers, but this seems unlikely: if someone from the old Administration were meant to be held over, then why not the outgoing President himself until things could be sorted out? The two-thirds of states being present in the House constituting a quorum was put in not to allow for further delay once Congress convened but rather in an era when travel to the national capital could involve weeks, if not months, to prevent a President from being chosen until representatives from at least most of the states could get there. I don't think that public opinion would allow them in a modern era to just sit there and boycott the proceedings; but then public opinion did nothing to force the outcome in 2000 to reflect the winner of the plurality of the popular vote from not being the actual victor, however, there were precedents for that, namely 1876 and 1888, and one could argue that the system worked as it should, emphasizing the choice of states over that of individuals. Rlquall 21:43, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
I doubt this is actually a problem. Quorum requires a "member or members from two-thirds of the states," so you would have to have every member of the state's congressional delegation agree to the boycott. Since only seven states have only one representative and I believe only six states have congressional delegations made up only of members of a single party, you would almost always be able to form a quorum from getting just one representative from a state to come vote. As such, the likelihood of a constitutional crisis due to this technicality is astronomically low, so probably doesn't deserve a spot on the main page. -- (talk) 22:20, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
Additionally, this is covered by Section 3 of the Twentieth Amendment and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If there's no President-elect, the Vice President-elect becomes Acting President on Inauguration Day. If there's also no Vice President-elect, then we go to the Speaker of the House and so on down the Presidential Line of Succession. --SMP0328. (talk) 22:47, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
Oh, another thing about the quorum: the Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives can actually arrest Representatives to force them to show up to make a quorum. (Trying to stay away to prevent a vote from making a quorum is an old trick, and is kinda what sergeants at arms are for.) --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 06:14, 30 August 2008 (UTC)


Pardon my ignorance, but why is the text of the 12th Amendment set out here different to that in XII Wikisource?

Secondly, does this article need to include the text? -- ALoan (Talk) 22:51, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

The text was vandalized on 20:52, 5 March 2006 by User: I've reverted it to a previous revision which matches —Ryanrs 07:51, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Current ending

The current ending to the article is speculative, poorly written, and smacks of original opinion (don't see how much "research" went into it). I don't think that what would've happened or likely happened in a certain instance if other things were different belongs in a serious article on the 12th Amendment any more than James Thurber's "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomatox" belongs in a serious article discussing the American Civil War. Rlquall 21:48, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

It's not at all speculative that, without the 12th Amendment, the VP is almost guaranteed to be of a different political party than the Pres. This has obvious implications for pardons for ex-Presidents. If there's any part of the language you don't like, tell us specifically what it is or attempt to fix it yourself. Some speculation is supported by Wikipedia, such as "what would have happened had atomic bombs not been used against Japan". And most of your edits have no edit summary, what's up with that ? StuRat 04:05, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Sorry but it is rather speculative. In the present day and age (indeed frankly since the mid 19th century) communication is such that it's easier to co-ordinate the electoral college. In an election like 1972 the scale of the landslide means that the Republicans could theoretically have nominated enough people to even keep McGovern out of the top 5 and thus out of run-off in the House of Representatives. With only four elections run pre 12th amendment, two of which had a non-party nominee for President and the others a mess it's hard to say for sure, but the Federalists proved in 1800 that it was possible for a party to cast an electoral college vote that made it clear who they wanted to be Pres and who to be VP. The only post 1800 election where it may have returned different parties was 1876 (a one vote majority for Hayes and Wheeler over Tilden and Hendricks, although as the Republicans controlled the Senate they'd have probably chosen Wheeler over Tilden in a VP tie). Timrollpickering 22:04, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Poker hand tie breaker?

Is it an urban legend that at some time a tie that persisted would eventually be broken by a single hand of poker? Or perhaps is it for some offices other than prez or veep? In some Statewide elections perhaps? -- Cimon Avaro; on a pogostick. 23:04, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

---This occurred years ago during a mayoral election in New Mexico or Arizona, as specified by that town's bylaws. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:24, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Long intro

I blinked, wondering whether or not that little golden star was a hallucination of my own. Then, satisfied it wasn't, I decided to delve a little deeper as to why the introduction was so unnecessarily long-winded:

The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution altered Article Two pertaining to presidential elections. Article Two stated that the Electoral College would elect both the President and the Vice President in a single election; the person with a majority would become President and the runner-up would become Vice President. When the Constitution was written, no political parties existed. Indeed, as the Federalist Papers make clear, political factions, let alone parties, were regarded as a threat to the republic. The electoral college, as envisioned in the original constitution, was expected, once George Washington had retired from politics, to lead to an electoral stalemate in which no one gained a majority of the votes for President. In such a case, the House of Representatives would elect the President. The losing candidate with the highest electoral vote would become the Vice President. The issue of candidates from rival parties being selected did not exist, since there were no political parties, nor were they expected to form, when the Constitution was written and ratified. The emergence of political parties dashed these expectations. Political parties were able to organize their supporters, more or less successfully, to vote as a block for their two leading candidates for office. Since each elector had two votes under this system, it was likely that the two candidates proposed by the winning party would receive an equal number of votes for the Presidency. The election of the opposition that occurred in 1796 was due to vote-splitting on the part of those who elected John Adams amongst several vice-presidential candidates for the Federalists. Problems with this system were demonstrated by the election of 1796 and, more spectacularly, the election of 1800. The Twelfth Amendment, proposed by the U.S. Congress on December 9, 1803 and ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures on June 15, 1804, changed the system so that each elector cast a single vote for the office of president and another vote for the office of vice-president, thus lessening the possibility of a tie. Most accounts of the proposal and ratification of the Twelfth Amendment emphasize the practical importance of preventing a tie vote for the Presidency. But at the time of its proposal, leading Federalists were convinced that the proposed amendment was part of a "plot" by the Republican Party to monopolize the Executive Branch.

The first bloating of this happened is this guy smokingtitle=Twelfth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution&diff=89186862&oldid=89186064 in this anonymous edit and things went downhill from there. Feel free to try to work the text back into the article, but I suspect that it's all fairly redundant. — Edward Z. Yang(Talk) 04:16, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

This appears to be a relic of the early days of FAC. As it is right now with nary a secondary source cited, this article might be worth of FAR. JHMM13 04:35, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Vice President elector votes

I made a change in the article, from 'party' to 'state' where the condition is that an elector from a given state has cast a Presidential ballot and must then choose a Vice-President.

In the amendment itself, it states: "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 themselves"

In the last section, there is the following language: " prevent situations wherein electors of the state in question are forced to vote for a candidate from a different party merely on the grounds of residency."

I have bolded 'party' to call attention to the word in question.

In the next-to-last section, the language: "Under the Twelfth Amendment, electors must cast distinct votes for President and Vice President, instead of two votes for President. No Elector may cast votes for Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates who both inhabit the same state as the Elector. It is, however, possible for an Elector to cast his votes for candidates from the same state, if that state is different from the Elector's."

My change, reverted, was 'party' to 'state' - thinking that an elector would have party affiliation and would be unwilling to vote for a candidate from another party. This was reverted - see recent history of the article - with the comment that the editor thought party was the correct word. But it seems to me that the amendment gives the elector the choice of voting for a person from another party or state, so, another party if comfortable with that, or another state in the same party in uncomfortable. What is the correct/best language? I am tempted to change 'party' to 'party or state'. --Dumarest 18:44, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Both are basically correct in context, but party seemed to fit in the sentence much better and make more sense to the context. I agree with the "party or state" solution, and will make that change now. --CapitalR 18:51, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Text of the amendment

On 21 December I edited this article, to include the actual text of the amendment as given in the reference, which, being from 'The U.S. Constitution OnLine' certainly ought to be the last word of correctness. Now it has been edited, rearranged, and a variety of changes per 3 Jan at 1:12. I await comments by people more learned than I, and expect I will restore what I believe is the actual wording. --Dumarest (talk) 00:51, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Changes have been reverted.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 03:46, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Link to Electoral College article

I've added a link to the Electoral College (United States) article. This way, people (especially kids) who read this article and want to learn more about the Electoral College can do so without having to search for the article. SMP0328. (talk) 02:05, 12 January 2008 (UTC)


The article states that the only time the House decided an election was Jackson and Adams. What about Hayes and Tilden? Or is reconstruction no longer important? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

The Congress didn't resolve that dispute via the contingency procedure in the Twelfth Amendment. Instead a commission was formed. See United States presidential election, 1876 for details. SMP0328. (talk) 21:00, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Deleted last paragraph

Was just simple modern propaganda that had nothing relevant to the vice presidency of the United States. If you want to flame or put vice presidency information about Cheney that should be put under Cheney's information. This is a formal twelfth amendment section of the constitution. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:00, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

The above described edit has been reverted. SMP0328. (talk) 20:13, 24 May 2008 (UTC)


As a casual reader, I was curious why the three states voted against this amendment. Perhaps a subject matter expert would care to something there. Stevage 03:06, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Ticket not specified

The twelfth amendment does not specify that the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates are grouped as a ticket. They are in fact elected separately, with the ballots for the Vice-President counted separately. The last sentence in the before the 12th amendment paragraph which refers to ticket should be removed. Would somebody please change the text. TLConrow (talk) 21:34, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

The Twelfth Amendment does not require tickets, but they are traditionally done since 1796. The Twelfth Amendment was adopted with tickets in mind. See what happened in 1800 for more details on this. SMP0328. (talk) 02:05, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Is there any information anywhere as to why the Founding Fathers designed the original electoral system that way ? It would seem that, prior to the passage of the 12th amendment, the system would virtually guarantee a president-VP pair who oppose each other: two rivals awarded first and second place and ultimately made to work together. It just seems a strange thing to do. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, 14 July 2010 (UTC) EDIT: Nevermind... I just read the article on the Electoral College and found the answer. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:53, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

I find "In having the President and Vice President elected as a ticket" in reference to the 12th Amendment being in effect. I am going to change that to ALLOWING them to be elected as a ticket without a tie vote such as occurred in 1800. By the way, I do not think the original design of the electoral-vote system was made with political parties in mind; the 1st parties grew out of differences between Jefferson and Hamilton, 2 members of Washington's original Cabinet. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:59, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Before the 12th Amendment - sloppy language.

I've edited the first paragraph.

each elector could cast two votes. Each elector could not vote for two people inhabiting the same state as that elector.

First of all the electors didn't have "two votes", because why couldn't they give both votes to one candidate that they really wanted to be President? They voted for "two persons", thus avoiding that possibility. The next sentence, by omitting the word "both" wasn't clear that at least one candidate could be from the same state. Silas Maxfield (talk) 16:34, 27 February 2013 (UTC)


Propose to change: "The amendment was proposed by the Congress on December 9, 1803, and was ratified by the required number of state legislatures on June 15, 1804" to The amendment was proposed by the Congress on December 9, 1803, and was ratified by the requisite three–fourths of state legislatures on June 15, 1804" It reads better and provides more information in the heading... Any comments before I make the change? Zarpboer (talk) 13:36, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Do it. SMP0328. (talk) 20:02, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Voting by state

Is there any legal analysis that describes how voting by state in the House would work if there were three presidential candidates and no single candidate gets a majority of the state's representatives' votes? Say a state has 10 representatives, and they split 4-3-3. Would the candidate who gets 4 votes get that state's vote, because they came out on top? Or would nobody get the vote because nobody has an absolute majority?

In 1824, the only post-12th amendment contingent house election, every state delegation had a majority vote on the first ballot, so this didn't come up. It seems like a distinct possibility in the case of a three-way race, though. --Jfruh (talk) 00:04, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

I haven't been able to find any source that gives an answer. It might be a matter for House rules. Hopefully, this never becomes an issue. SMP0328. (talk) 01:00, 10 February 2016 (UTC)