Claim: The U.S. constitution requires that presidential and vice-presidential candidates be from different states
Origins: Back in
None of the congressional leaders involved in the meetings have figured in speculation about a possible running mate, suggesting that the day’s conversations were designed to seek advice. [Illinois senator Dick] Durbin and [Illinois representative Rahm] Emanuel are barred from being on the ticket because the Constitution requires that the presidential and vice presidential candidates be from different states.
This statement reflects a not uncommon misbelief about a fairly obscure point of
but in order to fully explicate the origins of this misbelief, we must first essay a bit of background on the origins of the process by which
One of the many vexing issues the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention faced, once they had agreed that the new
The framers agreed on a compromise for choosing the president: the electoral college. Each state would appoint electors, equal to the number of the congressional delegation, who would then vote for president. The underlying assumption of the electoral college was that, in a nation as large as America, the citizenry would not be able to make an informed choice. Instead, elite electors would choose the president in a deliberate atmosphere, free from intrigue and coercion.
The election mechanism specified in
The framers did anticipate one potential flaw with their electoral mechanism, though: Since each state would likely consider it to be to their advantage for the nation’s chief executive to be a fellow statesman, electors would be tempted to vote only for candidates from their home states. And since every elector would vote for two candidates, and states with larger populations had more representatives in Congress and therefore got to appoint more electors, this process created the possibility that the presidency would be continually held by candidates hailing from a few of the largest states. (Many delegates believed that rarely would any presidential candidate receive a majority of electoral votes, so every four years the House of Representatives would essentially be choosing a president from among the five candidates “nominated” by the three or four states with the most electoral votes.) Therefore,
This requirement is still in effect today, but confusion arises when people misunderstand it to govern the actions of candidates rather than electors. Nothing in the constitution bars presidential and vice-presidential candidates from the same state from running, being elected, or holding office together; it only bars the electors from their home state from voting for both of them.
For example, suppose the Republican party nominated for their national ticket a pair of candidates who both hailed from the state of Nevada. If the Republican ticket received the most popular votes in that state in the general election, Nevada’s electors could not cast ballots for both candidates
Since Nevada has a relatively small number of electoral votes (5), and none of the electors in other states would be subject to the same voting limitation as Nevada’s electors, it’s unlikely this scenario would affect the outcome of a general election. But if the election were very close, or if both candidates came from a state with a large number of electoral votes (such as California or
This restriction was an issue in the 2000 presidential election. Dick Cheney, who grew up in Wyoming and represented that state in Congress from
Last updated: 8 April 2015
Bravin, Jess. “Obscure Texas Case Offers Peek Into Role of Court Nominee.” The Wall Street Journal. 7 October 2005. Monk, Linda R. The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution. New York: Hyperion, 2003 ISBN 0-7868-6720-5 (pp. 62-74, 201-204).