Under the United States Constitution as it existed at the time, each elector cast two ballots, and the candidate who received the most votes was chosen president, with the runner-up receiving the vice presidency. In 2000 elections, voters were given two choices on their ballot: a presidential candidate and a vice-presidential candidate. If they didn't vote for either candidate, their vote would not be counted.
The winner of the electoral college vote was not known immediately because George Washington had served two non-consecutive terms as president. The 1796 election was conducted in a way that allowed for the possibility of more than one candidate being elected; in fact, there were three candidates on the ballot. The electors met in December to cast their votes for president and vice-president. After much debate, they chose John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively. However, when Congress met in January 1797 to count the votes, it was discovered that both Adams and Jefferson had won enough votes to become president and vice-president. This led to a congressional committee choosing one of them as president.
This process was repeated in 1801 when the electors again chose John Adams and Jefferson. This time, however, James Madison was also on the ballot. When Congress met in December 1802 to count the votes, it was discovered that all four candidates had won enough votes to become president and vice-president.
Each elector cast two votes for the president under the original design; electors did not vote for the vice president. The person who obtained the most elector votes would be elected president, and the person who received the second most votes would be appointed vice president. If there was a tie between an elected and appointed vice president, the office would go to the president of the Senate or another qualified voter by special appointment from the president.
The modern system of electing presidents and vice presidents by electoral college vote was adopted in 2000 after the Supreme Court ruled that federal law required it following an election dispute between Arkansas and Texas. Before then, members of the Electoral College were required by law to vote for president and vice president according to what the Constitution called "one time only" ballots. These provisions were included in the founding documents of several states, including Pennsylvania through its Bill of Rights. They were meant to prevent politicians from manipulating the process for personal gain. For example, if one political party controlled both the presidency and the legislature, they could ensure their candidates won by filling all vacancies with allies, thus preventing voters from having a chance to replace them.
In the early days of the country, presidents were popularly elected by citizens age 18 or older. As populations grew and commerce increased, more people became involved in politics. One issue leading up to the Civil War was whether voters should be allowed to elect senators.
Since the twelfth amendment was ratified in 1804, electors have voted separately for the president and vice president. Previously, each elector voted twice for president, and the winner and runner-up were elected president and vice president, respectively. This section may include original research.
Each elector got two votes and voted for two people under the original Electoral College system. The candidate who received the most votes was elected president, while the candidate who received the second most votes was elected vice president.
Washington was elected with a unanimous vote of all 69 electors. Adams received 34 electoral votes and was elected vice president. No other candidate received more than 1 vote.
The election of 1800 was too close to call after the first round of voting. The final result was Jefferson-Watkins (Jeff) vs. Monroe (John). Jeff won by one vote, allowing him to become the third President without being elected by popular vote.
In 1825, someone wrote "Hail, Columbia" on the roof of the Capitol building. The incident created a national sensation because it was thought that this would be the last time that Congress would meet in an atmosphere free from pollution. However, when rain came up during one of its sessions, everyone realized that this expression was not enough to produce water vapor strong enough to damage the wood paneling on which it was written.
In 1877, Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts introduced a resolution for the election of a President by ballot instead of by congressional appointment. The resolution failed by a vote of 20 to 58. This shows that at that time there were still members of Congress who believed that the election of their president should be made by vote rather than by appointment.
With Crawford receiving 41 electoral votes and Clay receiving 37, no candidate gained a majority, and the House of Representatives was forced to choose amongst the top three leading candidates, as required by the Twelfth Amendment.
Each elector is only allowed to cast one ballot with two names on it, according to the Constitution. The most votes were cast for John Adams, a Federalist. Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic Republican, narrowly lost to Adams by three votes and was appointed vice president.
A fifth contender, John C. Calhoun, withdrew and chose to run for vice president instead. Jackson and Adams won New England, Jackson and Clay divided the mid-Atlantic states, Jackson and Crawford split the Southern states.