Claim: If electors from one-third of the states decline to cast Electoral College ballots, the next U.S. President will be chosen the House of Representatives
Example: [Collected via e-mail, November 2012]
Is this true?
So, if 1/3 of the States (17) do NOT cast their electoral college votes – then it goes to the House of Representatives (not the senate) to elect the next President.
Origins: As generations of American school children have been taught in civics/government classes, although all eligible citizens throughout the United States may participate in the voting to select the person who shall hold the office of President of the United States, they do not directly elect the President. Instead, the residents of each state vote for a slate of electors equal in number to the members of their state’s Congressional delegation; those electors (currently 538 in number) cast ballots designating their choice of candidate for the presidency (a process known as the Electoral College), and whichever candidate receives a majority of those
In November 2012, WND published an article (“How Obama Can Be Stopped in Electoral College”) by Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, suggesting a way in which the Electoral College process could be circumvented to prevent President Obama’s re-election and instead install Mitt Romney as President:
The House of Representatives selects the president and the Senate selects the vice president. Since the Republicans hold a majority in the House, presumably they would vote for Mitt Romney, and the Democrats in the Senate would vote for Joe Biden for vice president. Can this work? Sure it can.
According to the 12th Amendment, for the Electoral College to be able to select the president, it must have a quorum of
The House of Representatives selects the president and the Senate selects the vice president.
Since the Republicans hold a majority in the House, presumably they would vote for Mitt Romney, and the Democrats in the Senate would vote for Joe Biden for vice president.
Can this work?
Sure it can.
This article was poorly researched and flat out wrong, an erroneous assumption based upon a misreading of the
The 12th Amendment to the Constitution doesn’t state that Congress “must have a quorum of
that if the selection of President has already devolved upon the House of Representatives because no candidate received a majority of electoral votes, then “a quorum consist[ing] of a member or members from two-thirds of the states” is necessary before the House can begin to vote. In other words, the
Moreover, the scheme described above includes a couple of implicit errors. Members of the House of Representatives do not cast ballots individually for President; they vote as part of state delegations, with each state having one vote. Therefore, whichever party controls the majority of seats in the House is not guaranteed a victory in such a process; what’s important is which party controls a majority of state delegations in the House. Additionally, the current composition of the House is irrelevant, as the new Congress to be seated in January 2013 would select a President if no candidate who ran in the November 2012 election received a majority of electoral votes.
It has happened from time to time that “faithless” electors have cast ballots for candidates other than the ones they were pledged to support in the Electoral College (although many are now prohibited from doing so by state laws), but electors pledged to a losing candidate can’t do an end run around the Electoral College process simply by refusing to vote at all.
Last updated: 20 November 2012