Constitutional FAQ Answer #75 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #75

<<Previous Question |
Question Index |
Subject Index |
Constitutional Index |
Next Question>>

Q75. “In the presidential election of 1800, Aaron
Burr and Thomas Jefferson received the same number of votes in the electoral
college. Congress chose Jefferson as President and Aaron Burr as Vice President
using Article 2 Section 2 of the Constitution. How did Congress arrive at this

A. The election was really between Jefferson and Burr on the Republican
ticket and Adams and Pinckney on the Federalist ticket. The top two
vote-getters were the Republicans. The problem is that since there was no
separate election for President and for Vice President, they had two candidates
from the same party as the top two choices — which was to be

The Constitution says that the issue is settled in the House. The kicker
— the House was dominated by Federalists. To win, one of the candidates
needed the votes of nine states (one vote per state, sixteen states, eight plus
one needed for a majority); after thirty-five ballots, there was still no
winner. Jefferson smoothed some feathers and was elected, with Burr as his
second. The 12th Amendment was passed a few
years later as a result of this near-crisis.

Last Modified: 17 Aug 2010

Valid HTML 4.0