Now that we know who can be President and what the President does; it is necessary to discuss how the President is elected.
The compromise that helped to decide who should elect the President
The Possibilities: Congress
State Governments or Legislatures
Who could vote: White land owning men over the age of 21 (most qualified to rule & men who didn’t own land couldn’t be trusted)
Universal White manhood Suffrage (by the 1840s) Black males (in theory) post Civil war 15th Amendment Women 19th amendment 1920
The Electoral College: States decide how their electors are chosen (why important for the time period)
Each state has the same number of electors that they have representatives in Congress
At its creation: each elector cast 1 vote for their top 2 choices
Most votes – President
2nd place – VP
12th amendment changed this – Election of 1800 (36 ballots in the Election of 1800)
23rd amendment – 3 electoral votes to Washington D.C.
Why was it created? Safety net – most people couldn’t read, only local newspapers
At its creation, electors didn’t have to vote the way of the popular vote
TODAY: (538) electors are PLEDGED but not BOUND
Faithless electors – 24 states have laws to punish – none have even been prosecuted
Electoral College Map – Election night
Electoral College meets in December
Congress counts the votes in January
Pros and Cons
What can be done – Abolish it – requires a Constitutional amendment
Instead of a winner take all system votes could be divided according to % of popular vote of each Candidate
Presidential Succession: Illness, impeachment, death, resignation
2. Speaker of the House
3. President Pro Tempore of the Senate
4. Sec of State
5. Sec of Treasury
6. Sec of Defense
7. Attorney General
Illness: 25th amendment (1967)
VP takes over Presidential duties if President is incapacitated or disabled. VP is given TEMPORARY authority
Has been used 3X all for medical procedures
Impeachment according to the Constitution the President can be “removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
Calls for impeachment begin in the House of Representatives (need a simple majority)
The Senate conducts the trial and the Chief Justice of The Supreme Court acts as the judge and the Senate as the Jury. 2/3 vote to be removed from office. An impeached President can’t be pardoned.
Three Presidents have been impeached but neither were removed from Office
1. Andrew Johnson 11 Articles of Impeachment (1867) violating the office of tenure act (found not guilty by one vote)
2. Bill Clinton 2 Articles of Impeachment (1998) Perjury and obstruction of Justice
Nixon would have been Impeached but he resigned before the Call to vote for Impeachment moved to a full House vote. In response to the Watergate scandal
We are currently in the midst of the 3rd Presidential Impeachment in our nation’s history.
Donald Trump 2 Articles of Impeachment
1. Abuse of Power
2. Obstruction of Congress
Whistle blower complaint – President’s phone call with Ukrainian President, quid pro quo for political gain over a political opponent.