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Understanding a Majority Vote

Understanding a Majority Vote

The electoral college is a system based upon a majority, as opposed to a plurality. The key difference is simply that a majority-based system will only provide election success to the individual or party that earns over half the votes, while a plurality-based system will give election success to the individual or party that earns the most votes.

The difference seems to be rooted in semantics, but it is important, especially when viewed in light of the electoral college, which changes the idea of the majority from what it might be in a popular vote.

If the American presidential election system as established by the Second Article of the Constitution and the Twelfth Amendment were a plurality-based system, then a candidate voted for by only a small fraction of the country might win the election. This is because that candidate would only have to earn more electoral votes in the electoral college than all the other candidates in order to win.

If there were a great many candidates, then each one would steal some votes from the others In that event what would likely wind up happening is that no one of those many candidates would actually win a majority of votes, while one would win a plurality of electoral votes. This would, as described earlier, have the unfortunate side effect of resulting in a President-Elect who was not actually voted for by a majority of voters in the electoral college, and therefore, by extension was likely not voted for by a majority of citizens in America.

Instead of such a system, the electoral college uses a system based on majority, in which the candidate with the most electoral votes still wins, but that candidate has to have at least half of all the total votes in order to successfully win the election outright. If no candidate earns such a majority of electoral votes, then the decision of which candidate wins the race would actually fall to the House of Representatives according to the Twelfth Amendment. The House of Representatives would be able to vote on the top three receivers of electoral votes, but would still need to reach a quorum to elect any of those candidates.

The majority required of the electoral college is not a majority of citizens in the country and is detached from the popular vote. The majority is instead an absolute majority of electoral votes, which means that it is a majority made up of over half of all possible votes in the electoral college. This is different from a simple majority, which would be over half of all the votes that are actually entered into the system.

For instance, an elector can, theoretically, abstain from a vote, but this would not change the fact that the elector would be counted for purposes of determining the absolute majority of electoral votes. In theory, a given candidate can win an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes (at the current time) without winning a majority of the popular vote.

This is, however, difficult in practice, as most cases in which a candidate wins a majority of votes in the electoral college also involves that candidate winning a majority of the popular vote, and those situations in which the candidate did not win the popular vote were very close elections.

Background of The Electoral College

Background of The Electoral College

The electoral college is one of the most important elements of the modern American political system, as it determines exactly how the President of the United States is elected.

Considering that the President holds the powers of the executive branch of the American Government, the process to elect the President is of great significance to any American citizen, not least because American citizens have a say in the election of the President. But exactly how Americans are able to affect the election of the President depends entirely on the rules of the electoral college system, which does not allow for as much direct influence as many Americans may imagine.

Electoral College Background

Indirect Popular Voting

The Electoral College system is an indirect system of voting. Under the Electoral College, American citizens are voting for an elector, who would then vote for the President. Those citizens are not directly voting for the President. The framers of the Constitution had a number of different reasons for doing this. Some of those reasons were embedded firmly in the nature of the time period in which the Constitution was written.

For example, a direct election would have been impractical for the time. Collecting all the votes of all the citizens and then tabulating those votes would have taken inordinate amounts of time to do as a single, direct election. By splitting it into an Electoral College system, in which each citizen is effectively voting within his or her State, the system became much more easily managed.

Additionally, the framers of the Constitution were attempting to prevent too much power from being directly put into the hands of the public. They were consistently wary of any one party having too much power, and there was no difference between a tyranny of one individual and a tyranny of the majority, in their opinion. The Electoral College system was designed so as to nullify some of the potentials for the tyranny of the majority by making the population less important in the whole of the Electoral College process. For more information about the indirect voting system of the Electoral College and its advantages and disadvantages, follow the link.

Reaching Proper Majority

The framers of the Constitution decided not to have a system based on plurality for similar reasons to those for making the Electoral College in the first place. A presidential election system based on plurality would give the election to the candidate or party that had the most votes in the election, regardless of whether or not that candidate or party received a majority of votes. Instead of a plurality, then, the framers of the Constitution made an absolute majority the means of winning the presidential election.

To win an absolute majority, a candidate must have over half of the total possible votes in the system. This would, therefore, count as “possible votes” all abstentions. Using a system based on achieving an absolute majority does ensure that the President-Elect was elected by a majority of the country, instead of simply being the most popular out of a number of low-popularity candidates.

In most elections, obviously, only one candidate can achieve an absolute majority, but in all elections, it is always possible that no candidate would achieve an absolute majority. This is because the American system allows for more than two candidates to run, which means that each of the three candidates might get a third of the total votes, or each of four candidates might get a quarter of the total votes. In any such situation, no candidate would have earned enough votes to win an absolute majority.

In such a case, Article Two of the Constitution and the Twelfth Amendment provide for the House of Representatives to take over the election. The House would vote on which of the three candidates receiving the most electoral votes should become the President. To find out more about the nature of a system based on achieving an absolute majority of votes, click the link.

Debates over Systematic Reform

The Electoral College system is not perfect, and certainly has a number of flaws. The framers of the Constitution who chose to employ the system likely did not envision it as a perfect system, but many of the flaws that have become apparent over the years were likely entirely unanticipated by those framers. For example, some of the reasoning behind the Electoral College’s implementation, such as the sheer impracticality of collecting and tabulating the votes of all citizens in a direct election, have been circumvented in the modern world by advanced communications technology and computing technology. Where those may once have been practical concerns, they are now no longer significant.

Furthermore, the current system of the campaign in America effectively “games” the Electoral College system, such that candidates will focus their time, effort, and money on only certain swing states as opposed to states in general. These swing states seem to bear more significance to the election as a whole as well, primarily because a State that is very predisposed towards voting for a particular candidate or a particular party’s set of electors will be less significant as far as a candidate’s campaign strategy goes. The swing states will be the primary determinants of the election, as opposed to the states that are firmly entrenched in voting for one party or another.

Further criticism includes the fact that the electoral college system actually devalues the individual vote and discourages voter turnout because every voter’s vote only matters in the context of his or her own State. As long as that State is likely to vote for his or her choice of a candidate anyway, then his or her vote is less significant. If his or her State is likely to vote against his or her choice of candidate, then his or her vote is similarly less significant, primarily because he or she would be unlikely to change the disposition of his or her State of the State was polarized enough. Follow the link to learn more about some of the criticisms of the Electoral College system, and how some are attempting to solve these problems.

Election of 1876

The election of 1876 was an early example of a voting controversy, in which difficulty in counting and tabulating votes led to difficulty in determining who was the victorious candidate in the election. Rutherford B. Hayes was running against Samuel J. Tilden, and in the election, Tilden seemed to win the popular vote, while the electoral vote was indeterminate. The reason for this indeterminacy came from an error in three states’ submissions of results concerning the election.

Each State submitted two sets of results, one in favor of Hayes and one in favor of Tilden. Determining which set of results was correct was no easy task, and because the race was so close throughout the rest of the nation, the determination of these results would govern the course of the election.

In order to determine which candidate was to be elected, an Electoral Commission was appointed. But this Commission was something of a farce if only because it was made up of 7 members each of both parties and those members voted along their party lines. The deciding vote came from a Supreme Court Justice who similarly voted along party lines. The real determination of the election is attributed to dealing behind the scenes, in which Tilden was convinced not to contest the findings of the Electoral Commission in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes in exchange for certain political favors from Hayes when Hayes became President.

But this election stands out as one of the most controversial in American history, and as one of the few elections in which the candidate who won the popular vote, Tilden, did not win the presidency. For more information about the election of 1876 and its controversy, click the link.

Election of 1888

The election of 1888 was noteworthy only because the candidate who won the election did not win the popular vote, which is an oft-considered consequence of the Electoral College system. The two candidates in the election were Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. Grover Cleveland, the incumbent, lost the election to Benjamin Harrison, despite winning more of the popular vote. This was more attributable to the fact that the election was a remarkably close race than it was attributable to anything else.

Grover Cleveland lost his own State of New York by a 1% margin, which gave Harrison the necessary votes to beat Cleveland. But Cleveland, in turn, won 24 of his votes from different states where he only won by a 1% margin as well. This election demonstrated the important principle that the only times when the candidate who wins the popular vote does not win the electoral vote are in those races which are remarkably close. Any race with a greater margin of victory would be very unlikely to result in the same kind of outcome.

This election was also perfectly legitimate, with no controversy as to its outcome. Though Grover Cleveland did lose his home State by such a small margin, there was no doubt that he did lose and that Harrison had successfully won the election. To learn more about this election and how it fits into the overall scheme of historic elections in America, follow the link.

Election of 2000

The election of 2000 was an incredibly contentious election, in which the results were debated and argued over for quite a long time before it was finally resolved. The two candidates involved in the election were George W. Bush and Al Gore. It was yet another election in which the winner of the popular vote did not win the electoral vote, and, like the election of 1888, it was another extremely close race. That is the source of the main controversy surrounding the election.

The election was so close that a miscount in an important State could have spelled disaster for either of the involved candidates. Unfortunately, there was evidence of just such a miscount in Florida due to some difficulties in the counting process. As a result, the actual determination of the election’s victor dragged on for a month, for much longer than it normally would have gone. Al Gore had more of the popular vote, but Florida offered up 25 electoral votes, which was enough to put either candidate over the top and give that candidate the presidency.

Florida’s votes eventually appeared to go to Bush, but Gore contested this countless times, as some votes from certain counties in Florida were not tabulated into the overall results because those counties had not had enough time to complete their recounts. Gore eventually wound up taking the case to the Florida Supreme Court, and even the United States Supreme Court, in an attempt to get time for a recount. Eventually, however, the courts decided against a recount and instead ordered a decision. George W. Bush won the election, as a result, even though Bush had not won the popular vote.

The election stands out as one of the most controversial elections of the past hundred years and even in the country’s history as a whole. It raised important issues about exactly what the procedure should be in situations where a recount is necessary. Click the link for more about the election of 2000 and its many problems and controversies.

Procedures When the Majority is Not Met

When the absolute majority necessary for a successful presidential win is not actually met by any presidential candidate, Article Two of the Constitution provides the necessary procedures for completing the election. The election would actually go to the House of Representatives, which would have its own vote to determine which of the three candidates receiving the most electoral votes would win the election. This has only happened twice in American history, though it almost happened for the third time in the election of 2000.

The first time it occurred was in the election of 1800 before the Twelfth Amendment had been passed. In this case, the situation was even more problematic because the system of the Electoral College was different than most understand it today. Electors today get one vote for the President and one vote for the Vice-President, thanks to the Twelfth Amendment. But in 1800, electors voted twice, for two presidential candidates.

The candidate with the second most amount of electoral votes would become the Vice-President. This also meant that, although parties would put forward one candidate as the President and one as the Vice-President with the intent that each only fills the originally conceived role, there was no rule necessitating that outcome. As a result, in 1800 two candidates tied in electoral votes with neither getting the necessary majority. The decision went to the House of Representatives, then, according to the rules of the Constitution. The Twelfth Amendment was passed as a result.

This situation cropped up again in 1824 when four different candidates ran from the same party and none of them won an absolute majority. The decision again went to the House of Representatives, but this time they decided upon a candidate who had won neither the plurality of electoral votes nor the plurality of popular votes. The solution for these situations, of turning the election over to the House of Representatives, however, was shown to be effective and functional. For more information about each of these elections and the general procedures for what happens in the electoral college system when no candidate earns an absolute majority, follow the link.

Election of 1800

Election of 1800

The presidential election of 1800, the fourth presidential election in United States’ history, was one of the first to show the flaws of the U.S. Electoral College system.

The election was between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and as such, was something of a redux of the presidential election of 1796, which had been decided in John Adams’ favor.

But according to the U.S. Electoral College system of the time, in the 1796 election Thomas Jefferson had become Vice President. This was because the U.S. Electoral College system at the time involved electors voting for only Presidential candidates, but still receiving two votes. The candidate with the absolute majority would become President and the candidate with the next highest amount of electoral votes would become Vice President.

Thus, the 1796 presidential election had resulted in a President and a Vice President who were political opponents from two different parties. This problem of determining the President and Vice President through the U.S. Electoral College would characterize the presidential election of 1800.

Though John Adams was soundly defeated, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr actually received the same number of votes in the U.S. Electoral College. This meant that neither could be definitively called the victor. Under Article 2 of the Constitution, the House of Representatives would cast a vote to decide the election if there was a tie in the voting of the U.S. Electoral College. This meant that the House of Representatives now had the power to determine who was President, which changed the race significantly.

The political parties involved in the presidential election of 1800 were the Federalists, of whom John Adams was a major representative and the Democratic-Republicans. Both Jefferson and Burr belonged to the Democratic-Republicans. Though elections had been held to change Representatives and Senators in Congress, the lame-duck Congress at the time of the presidential election was primarily Federalist. As such, the party which was opposed to both of the potential candidates would get to decide which of those two candidates won the presidential election thanks to the tie in the U.S. Electoral College.

Most of the Federalists would have preferred to vote for Aaron Burr, as Thomas Jefferson had been the opponent of the Federalist Party since that party’s inception. This was especially strange given that the Democratic-Republicans had clearly intended for Jefferson to be the presidential candidate, while he should have been the vice-presidential candidate. Thanks to the U.S. Electoral College system of the time, however, there was no functional difference and the Federalists could choose the so-called vice-presidential candidate over the presidential candidate for the winner of the presidential election.

Burr might have thus become the President of the United States if it hadn’t been for Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a major leader in the Federalist Party, used his significant influence to push for Jefferson’s election over Burr. Hamilton believed that it was better for Jefferson to win the presidential election because Jefferson was simply wrong, but was honest, while Burr was a dangerous liar. (Hamilton and Burr would of course go on to have the most famous duel in American history, in which Burr would kill Hamilton.) As a result, Jefferson just barely garnered more votes from the House of Representatives than did Burr, and Jefferson won the election with Burr becoming his Vice-President.

This election’s primary effect upon America was the creation of the Twelfth Amendment, which reworked the U.S. Electoral College. The Twelfth Amendment was only passed in 1804, but it importantly altered the U.S. Electoral College to allow electors to vote for both a President and a Vice-President in a presidential election, instead of voting for two different presidential candidates, or the same presidential candidate twice.

The Twelfth Amendment established further systems to help prevent any problems as occurred in this election, but the key point was that the ticket system of presidential elections, in which a President and Vice-President would run for office together, became the system of America thanks to the confusion of the election of 1800.

Election of 1824

Election of 1824

The election of 1824 was, like the election of 1800, decided by a vote from the House of Representatives. This time it was not because two candidates tied in electoral votes, but it was instead because no single candidate received an absolute majority of electoral votes.

This was in no small part a result of the election’s very nature, as four different candidates arose from a single party. Each of these candidates had slightly different aims than the others, and though they were not officially from different parties at the time of the election, some of them would go on to found differing parties.

As these candidates all took electoral votes from different parts of the Electoral College map, no one candidate was able to win an absolute majority. The decision of the House of Representatives, in this case, is also notable because the House decided to give the election to a candidate who did not actually win the majority of electoral votes.

The four candidates in this election were Andrew Jackson from Tennessee, John Quincy Adams from Massachusetts, William H. Crawford from Georgia, and Henry Clay from Kentucky. Each candidate won a different part of the Electoral College map, with Adams garnering the electoral votes from New England while Jackson had electoral votes from all throughout the American states of the time.

The Electoral College map for the election shows Clay winning many votes in the West, while Crawford drew electoral votes from the southeast states. Because no candidate won a majority, the decision went to the House of Representatives, which only took three candidates with the most electoral votes into consideration, as defined under the terms of the Twelfth Amendment. Because of this, Henry Clay was not one of the options for the House of Representatives to choose in the Presidential decision. This was ironic, as Clay was also the Speaker of the House, and would have, theoretically, been able to exert his influence in that position in order to push himself towards the Presidency. Only Jackson, Adams, and Crawford had earned enough electoral votes to be considered, however.

Henry Clay eventually wound up throwing his support behind John Quincy Adams. Though Clay did not have nearly as many electoral votes as Adams did, Clay’s support was enough to tip the balance in Adams’ favor, as Adams gained support from parts of the Electoral College map that might otherwise never have voted for him.

In the election held by the House of Representatives in 1825, Adams won the election. This was not, however, the end of the story, as Andrew Jackson believed that Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams had worked out a corrupt deal to rig the election in Adams’ favor. Adams nominated Clay as his Secretary of State after Adams became President, simply furthering Jackson’s accusations.

Jackson’s anger came primarily from the fact that Jackson had not only won the popular vote, but he had also won more electoral votes than any other candidate. His support, as depicted on the Electoral College map, was widespread throughout the nation. Jackson believed that the election should have gone to him.

Though this election did not lead to any clear change in the Electoral College system, it did demonstrate the efficacy of the Twelfth Amendment in adjudicating unclear situations. Jackson’s anger notwithstanding, the system successfully appointed a new President and Vice President with little difficulty.

This election is noteworthy as the only time since that Amendment’s creation that the House of Representatives has had to determine the election, though in 2000 they were prepared to do so and had actually even gone so far as to vote on the matter so that the decision would be made if it was, indeed, turned over to the House of Representatives. The election is also noteworthy for the earlier stated reason, that it is the only election in which the candidate with the greatest number of electoral votes did not win, despite such clear support throughout the Electoral College map.

Election of 1888

Election of 1888

The election of 1888, only 12 years after the scandal of the election of 1876 with Rutherford B. Hayes, was another problematic and disputed election. The Republican candidate for this election was Benjamin Harrison, while the Democratic candidate was the incumbent President, Grover Cleveland. Benjamin Harrison was from Indiana, while Grover Cleveland was from New York.

In the election, Benjamin Harrison had a strong advantage over Grover Cleveland for a number of reasons, ranging from the fact that Benjamin Harrison was a Civil War soldier with a good record who was popular with former Union soldiers, to the fact that Grover Cleveland had made numerous enemies during his time in office, primarily for having tried to end a lot of corruptive practices.

This election was fairly tame, compared to the election of 1876, but it was significant because it represented one of the only times in American history that a presidential nominee lost the election, but won more popular votes than his opponent.

Grover Cleveland won 5,534,488 popular votes, while Benjamin Harrison won 5,444,892 popular votes. But Harrison won 65 more electoral votes than did Cleveland, which was more than enough to win the election for Benjamin Harrison. The only two times previous to this that a candidate had won the popular vote, while not winning the election, were the election of 1876 and the election of 1824.

This election was perhaps the least contested of all those three, however, as the 1876 election was wracked with controversy and dispute and behind-the-scenes dealings, while the election of 1824 was decided against Andrew Jackson by the House of Representatives, even though Andrew Jackson had won both more electoral votes and more popular votes because Jackson had not won an absolute majority.

The election of 1888 did not feature any of the vicious campaign tactics that characterized the election of 1876, and it did not feature the dispute of the election results after they came back, either. Though there was some possible manipulation in that Tammany Hall, a political machine which Grover Cleveland had stood against, might have been responsible for Cleveland losing New York, in the end, the election was considered fair and legal.

Benjamin Harrison successfully won 36 more votes from New York by edging out Grover Cleveland by a margin of popular votes less than 1%; those 36 electoral votes would have equated to a 72 vote swing and would have won Grover Cleveland the election. As it stood, Grover Cleveland only came as close as he did in the electoral race because the race was so close in popular votes; he won 24 of his electoral votes from states where he won only 1% more popular votes than did Benjamin Harrison.

This election, while an oddity in American history for being an election in which a candidate who won more popular votes did not win the Presidency, was still a perfectly legitimate election and it stands out as such amidst the other elections of the same nature, such as the election of 1876, or the election of 2000.

Election of 2000

Election of 2000

The election of 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore remains one of the most recent examples of a contended and unclear election to have cropped up.

In the election, Al Gore theoretically won the popular vote, while George W. Bush won the Presidency with 271 electoral votes, one more than was needed for an absolute majority and five more than Al Gore won. The real dispute surrounding the election erupted from determining where Florida’s 25 electoral votes would go, as the disposition of those 25 votes would determine the results of Bush vs. Gore.

Before Florida’s electoral votes had been tallied, the popular vote was already in Gore’s favor and so was the electoral vote at that point. Bush vs. Gore was already a clearly close race, not least because neither candidate had the necessary 270 votes for an absolute majority. New Mexico and Oregon, the last two states to be declared in the Bush vs. Gore contest before Florida, were both declared in favor of Gore, boosting Gore up to 266 votes. But the 25 votes of Florida were all that mattered to the race as a whole, as those 25 votes would determine the winner of the election.

The popular vote in Florida was incredibly close, and the counting of Florida’s votes was characterized by a consistent swinging back and forth between the two poles of the Bush vs. Gore race. At points, it looked as if Gore had won the race, only for more votes for Bush to be counted. At other times, it looked as if Bush vs. Gore had tipped in favor of Bush. This was towards the end of the counting process and Gore actually conceded to Bush.

But the popular vote in Florida was not over yet and the remaining counties that had not had their votes tabulated were all strongly Democratic. The disparity of votes between Gore and Bush shrank to about 300 votes in Florida, and then 900 votes with the addition of overseas military votes, in favor of Bush. This was after a State law mandated recount by machine because the popular vote in the State had been so close.

But Gore was not willing to let the Bush vs. Gore race end without a fight, not when it was clearly so close. He continually made requests that the popular vote of Florida be recounted by hand in four specific counties. The Florida Supreme Court had to make a decision on whether or not it would extend the deadlines to allow for a manual recount, even though Florida law clearly stipulated the deadlines for the counting of the popular vote.

As every Florida county raced to finish its recount, Palm Beach County, unfortunately, fell behind. When the deadline arrived, it had not finished and its partial recount results were therefore rejected. The Bush vs. Gore election looked to be going to Bush.
But Gore did not want to let the election go to Bush, not when the popular vote of Palm Beach County had not been counted.

Through a wide variety of court proceedings, Gore attempted to have the ballots recounted by December 12th, when electors had to be selected. Eventually, the Bush vs. Gore fight officially fell in favor of Bush, when Judge N. Sander Sauls ruled that Gore’s requests for a recount would not amount to any change in the election results and would simply be a waste of time.

There was still more debate to go on, as there had been some accusations of wrongdoing on the part of the Republican election. These election workers were accused of changing the results of the popular vote by illegally altering the absentee ballots sent in for those counties and even of removing applications for absentee ballots from the local offices. These motions all failed, however.

Additionally, Gore had appealed the decision of Judge Sauls to the Florida Supreme Court which, with only 4 days left, ordered the recount be conducted, but the United States Supreme Court put a hold on the recount and later decided that Gore could not receive a recount in his attempts to remedy the election problems. As such, the Bush vs. Gore race officially went to Bush, when Gore conceded on December 13th.

The election of 2000 stands out as one of the most problematic elections in American history, not least because of the dilemma of how to deal with a recount. Even today, many do still feel that the popular vote should have impacted more on the overall election process, as Gore did win the popular vote even as he lost the electoral vote. Many also believe there was much wrongdoing on the part of Republicans who adjusted the votes, even though such accusations have never been proven.

Indeed, those who did go back over the votes eventually found that no recount would have given Gore the votes he would have needed to win the Bush vs. Gore contest. But the election shows many of the problems in the Electoral College system, and the occurrence of the 2000 election allowed lawmakers to prepare for the eventuality that a similar situation should crop up again.

Article 2 Overview

Article 2 Overview

Article 2 of the Constitution concerns the executive branch of the American Government. The Article both assigns powers to the executive branch and determines exactly how the executive branch is formed. The executive branch primarily takes the form of the President and the Vice President, though there are also the Government officials who make up the Cabinet, which is described under Article 2.
Second Article of the Constitution
Article 2 bears particular significance, in that the Article was designed to limit the powers of the executive branch somewhat, in comparison to other executive branches throughout history. Article 2 was meant to establish the President of the United States as a different kind of government official than a king. The Article was also imperfect, as was anticipated by the Founding Fathers. It has been altered on multiple occasions when some flaw was discovered within the terms set out by Article 2.
For example, the Twelfth Amendment was a direct attempt to alter the election procedures listed under Article 2 into a more functional form. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment was similarly an attempt to modify the system of succession established in Article 2. Originally, in Article 2, if the President were to become unable to fulfill his duties, the Vice-President would become the President. But the Twenty-Fifth Amendment establishes a much more clearly defined hierarchy and also ensures that other officers of the Government can remove the President from power in the event that he is unable to fulfill his duty.
These changes are highly significant to the overall functioning of the Second Article, as they ensure that this branch of Government remains capable of performing its duties while still within the limits and restrictions of the Constitution. For more information about the basic elements of the Second Article of the Constitution, click the link.
Executive Powers and Vesting Clause
The vesting clause of the Second Article of the Constitution gives power to the President of the United States. The clause is different from the vesting clauses of the other Articles in the Constitution, as it vests power into a single individual, as opposed to a body of individuals. The powers vested in the President include the power to command the military of the United States, the power to have the Cabinet report to him or her directly, the power to grant pardons, the power to ratify treaties, the power to appoint some public officials, and the power to make recess appointments.
Each of these powers is limited in some ways in order to prevent the abuse of such powers by the President. For example, thought the President is Commander-in-Chief of the United States military, he or she cannot declare war without the approval of Congress. Similarly, the President cannot use his power of pardoning to pardon himself or any others in instances of impeachment. These limits on the powers granted to the President are in line with the basic purpose of the Constitution as a whole and the nature of the vesting clause as it fits within that nature.
The powers vested in the President are given by the people of the United States, and as such, they are limited, ensuring that the President can only use those powers for the benefit of the people. To find out more about the vesting clause and the executive powers it grants to the President, follow the link.
Election of President and Vice President
The procedures for the election of the President and the Vice President are outlined in Article 2. The primary system of significance for these elections is the Electoral College, as the Electoral College system determines exactly how votes from individual citizens are processed into votes for the President or the Vice President. The system has been modified somewhat, over the years, as with the Twelfth Amendment, which made electors in the Electoral College actually vote for a President and a Vice President, instead of simply voting twice for Presidential candidates.
The election of the President and the Vice President by the Electoral College must happen on a single day, as defined by Article 2, though the elections of electors to the Electoral College is not bound by the same rule. Furthermore, Article 2 defines certain criteria which every Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate must fulfill in order to run. To learn more about this basic information concerning the election of the President and the Vice-President, click the link.
Electoral College 
The Electoral College was the system put in place to elect the President without having a direct election. The Electoral College functions by having a number of electors from each State, elected in a fashion determined by each State’s Legislature, who then come together on a single date to vote for the President and Vice President. These electors are normally elected through a popular vote of the residents of that State, and as such, in theory will vote for the candidates who are most popular within a given State. For instance, if the majority of voters in New Jersey vote for Mr. Smith over Mr. Gray, then the electors who are sent to the Electoral College from New Jersey will be those electors who pledged to vote for Mr. Smith, and not Mr. Gray. The Electoral College is, therefore, an indirect voting system, as no citizen ever votes directly for the President or the Vice President except for the electors.
The purposes of implementing an indirect voting system were numerous and varied in the Founding Fathers’ conception, as they both involved the practical difficulties of having a direct election for the President and the worries of many Founding Fathers concerning the tyranny of the majority. This system has required a number of modifications over the years, but still remains fundamentally the same as the original system established in Article 2.
It is not a system without its flaws, however. Those changes that were made to the system were made because of problems that arose out of its original form, and though those problems will not arise again, there are always additional problems that might arise. Furthermore, many have criticized the Electoral College for disfavoring the majority of citizens and shifting focus onto a number of important “swing states” instead of all the states of America in terms of elections. Indeed, there have been a number of elections in which the candidate who won the popular vote did not win the Presidency, though the reasons differed somewhat each time, but were all, ultimately, attributable to the Electoral College. For more information about the Electoral College, how it functions, and how it is criticized, click the link.

Article 2

Article 2

Because the Electoral College system of America focuses on absolute majority and not plurality, it is possible for no candidate to win enough of the electoral vote to actually be declared President based purely on that election. In modern day America, there are 538 votes total in the Electoral College system and the majority of the electoral vote would require a given candidate to win 270 votes. This number has, of course, fluctuated over the years, as the electoral vote would vary depending on the number of votes afforded to each State. 
Every State gets a number of votes in the Electoral College system equal to the number of Representatives and Senators of that State. As Representatives vary by State depending upon population, then the total number of votes in the electoral vote may vary from election to election, and in the years prior to America’s acceptance of the full 50 states, the number of votes necessary to win an absolute majority in the Electoral College system was certainly lower. Regardless, however, it was always possible for no single candidate to win enough votes to earn an absolute majority in the electoral vote.
Primarily, the reason for this is because of the possibility of multiple parties and candidates. If each election only had two candidates, then all votes would be split between those two candidates. There might still be problems if not enough voters turned out, theoretically, but this would affect the popular vote and not the electoral vote, and as such, likely would not affect a candidate’s potential to earn an absolute majority in the Electoral College system. If a third candidate is introduced, however, then that candidate could very easily draw away some votes from the other two. If that candidate draws away just enough votes, then it is possible that neither of the other two candidates would be able to earn enough votes to obtain an absolute majority. If there is a fourth candidate, then this situation only becomes more possible. 
Nowadays, it is unlikely for a third party to draw away enough of the electoral vote from the two primary parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and their candidates to actually prevent one of those candidates from winning the presidential election. But in years past, this was certainly a possibility under the Electoral College system, and it actually happened on two different occasions.
The original writers of the Constitution did foresee such a potential outcome and provided for a way to solve it. In the event that no candidate has earned an absolute majority in the electoral vote, then the House of Representatives would hold a vote to determine the winner of the presidential election. This might lead to some odd circumstances, in which the results of the Electoral College system might be disregarded insofar as the actual vote of the House of Representatives is concerned.
While the House can only vote on the top three candidates from the electoral vote, meaning those three candidates who earned the most electoral votes, the House might still decide on a different President-elect than the candidate who earned the plurality of the electoral vote. The system already allowed for a different candidate than the one who earned the majority of the popular vote to win the Presidency, but through the possibility of this outcome, it is even possible for the electoral vote to have a minimal effect on the overall outcome of the election.
This system was refined after the election of 1800 with the introduction of the Twelfth Amendment so as to avoid certain complications, and as such, the procedure for dealing with an absence of an absolute majority from the electoral vote is fairly clear. The procedure is not necessarily perfectly fair, but it is certainly functional and its use in the election of 1824 shows that.

Knowing The Debates over Systematic Reform

Knowing The Debates over Systematic Reform

Many have argued for Electoral College reform based on the fact that the Electoral College was originally  implemented due to a number of concerns and problems that were wholly based in the time period. For example, the Electoral College was a more efficient system than the direct vote simply because of the amount of time that it would have taken to collect votes from all citizens and then to tabulate those votes in presidential elections.
As those votes would have to be collected and counted purely by hand, it seemed unfeasible to the Founding Fathers to attempt to do so in a single, massive election, so they instead implemented the Electoral College. But since then, such a problem has been thoroughly solved, thanks to countless technologies which not only increase the speed of travel, but also the speed and accuracy of communication. Thus, some have argued that Electoral College reform should be implemented in order to update America’s electoral system for the modern world. 
Another argument for Electoral College reform focuses on the fact that the current electoral system is unfair to certain parts of the country. As each State will, effectively, send all electoral votes to one candidate or the other in presidential elections, then if a majority of that State’s citizens are likely to vote for one party over another, that party need not worry about wooing that State. Similarly, the opposing party is unlikely to spend any effort on such a State either, as it will not have much of a chance of changing the opinions of enough citizens to have an impact on presidential elections. As a result, most candidates focus on certain swing states, where their efforts are more likely to have more of an effect on the actual Electoral College voting when the presidential elections come. 
This argument for Electoral College reform would be based on the fact that this is unfair to citizens in states who will not be given any attention by a presidential candidate because the electoral College system makes their votes less valuable. Some reply to this argument for Electoral College reform, however, by pointing out that it would simply refocus the nature of campaigns for presidential elections. Instead of focusing on swing states, candidates would focus only on major population centers, and plenty of citizens would still be left effectively unattended by a candidate. 
There have been many other criticisms and arguments made in support of Electoral College reform, ranging from how the current system for presidential elections actually discourages voter turnout by making each individual vote potentially less valuable in light of a State’s majority, to how a State with a higher population would be unfairly disadvantaged by the Electoral College system. Some have even gone so far as to support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would not directly overturn the Electoral College system, but would enact Electoral College reform by circumventing it. 
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would be an agreement by signing states to vote for the winner of the popular vote with all of their electoral votes. The Compact would then sponsor a direct, popular vote through which the member states could determine where to assign their electoral votes. As soon as enough states have joined the compact to ensure an absolute majority of 270 votes, then the Electoral College system would, in effect, be reformed for all presidential elections.

Executive Powers and Vesting Clause Explained

Executive Powers and Vesting Clause Explained

The vesting clause of any Article of the Constitution is the clause under which executive power is vested into a specific body or group. The First Article of the Constitution has a vesting clause giving power to Congress, in the form of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Third Article of the Constitution has a vesting clause giving power to a single Supreme Court. In the Second Article of the Constitution, the body vested with power is the President of the United States of America. The President, unlike either of the other two bodies designated as recipients of vesting clauses in other Articles of the Constitution, is a single individual given full executive powers.
The executive powers given to the President in the vesting clause include a number of different elements, most of which are described in Section 2 of the Second Article. The first of the executivae powers described is command of the military. The President is given power by the Constitution as the Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy of the United States of America. Though this is less significant now, he is also given power as the commander of the militia of the states when the militia is actually rounded up. Though the President does have executive powers as Commander in Chief, however, he does not have the power to declare war.
Another of the executive powers granted to the President is the ability to have any leading officer of any executive department submit a report to the President in writing, thereby giving the President power to command these officers to advise him. This is the executive power that creates the Cabinet, effectively.
The President is given the executive power to grant pardons or reprieves, with the exception that this executive power does not extend over situations of impeachment. A President does not have executive powers to pardon himself.
Yet another one of the executive powers given to the President is that he can ratify treaties, though this power is restricted, as it requires the President to obtain approval from the Senate. Treaties, in this sense, refer to international agreements, though treaties are only one type of international agreement possible. There are some types of international agreement, known as sole-executive agreements, which require only the approval of the President. But executive powers concerning treaties specifically do require the President to obtain a two-thirds approval from the Senate before ratifying the treaty in question.
The President is given executive powers concerning the appointment of a large number of public officials, including judges and ambassadors. These approvals do require the approval of the Senate as well, but the President is thus given executive powers to appoint any officers whose appointment is not specifically defined elsewhere in the Constitution. The President is also given executive powers to appoint public officials of a lower level without needing to obtain the approval of the Senate.
Finally, the President is given executive powers to make recess appointments. A recess appointment is an appointment to a senior Federal position without the approval of the Senate because the Senate is in recess at the time that the appointment is made. All recess appointments still have to be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress, and as such, the Senate can undue the President’s recess appointments.