The 12th Amendment

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – The dramatic change instituted by the 12th Amendment was aimed at preventing a repeat of the volatile election of 1800, which ended in a tie and had to be decided by the House of Representatives. But it has had a significant effect on every election since.

In elections up until 1800, and prior to political parties, the candidate receiving the most electoral votes became President and the one receiving the second-most became vice president. The 12th Amendment established separate places on the ballot for both offices and eliminated two centuries of potential controversy.

"Aaron Burr actually was so upset at not being named President (after finishing in a deadlock with Thomas Jefferson in 1800) that he tried to overthrow the government,'' said Dr. Richard Pacelle, head of the Georgia Southern University Political Science Dept. "So they thought that maybe we need a Constitutional Amendment that separated the offices of president and vice president. So now when the electors and the electoral college vote, they vote separately for president and vice president. That's why we get Obama and Biden and not Obama and McCain.''

The 12th Amendment was ratified in July 1804, getting in place just in time for the first election after 1800.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.