None of us are alive to remember, but there was a time when President and Vice President were selected independently from one another within the Electoral College. Prior to the ratification of the 12th amendment in 1804, electors would cast a ballot in the Electoral College with two names attached, though there was no identifier as to which one was for President or Vice President. The votes were totaled, and the name receiving the greatest number of elector votes would be President, while the name receiving the second-highest vote total would be Vice President.
That system quickly ran into problems, however, which necessitated the need for some revisions to the U.S. election system in the late 1700s.
With the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Electoral College would begin using separate ballots for the President and Vice President. In this scenario, the President and Vice President were now selected independently, though now almost exclusively from the same party since electors could now designate a vote for the Vice President. As a result, the concept of a party “ticket” was born where voters would essentially choose the pair of names together, voting for President and Vice President as one line item on the ballot.
Should We Elect A VP Separately?
A new organization, called Vice.run, is trying to initiate a sea change in American politics by bringing back a return of letting voters choose a Vice President separately. Such as, you could vote for President Trump in 2020, but also vote for Vice President Bernie Sanders or Vice President John Kasich, whatever your preference may be.
ABC News reports on the effort to give the VP a separate election:
There’s a national push for voters to elect the U.S. vice president separately from the president.
Vice.run, is a campaign that seeks to create a separate and independent ballot line for the vice president in 2020. The group is trying to collect — from all 50 states — voter signatures and pledges in support of the separate vice president election.
“An independently-elected vice president would give American voters a new level of direct control over who serves in the White House,” Vice.run says on its website. “Further, a separately-elected vice president could provide a moderating influence on the partisanship of the president.”
The founder of Vice.run David Blake announced on Twitter earlier this month that Utah became the first state to reach the signature pledges goal since launching their website in March.
It’s going to take a lot more than signature pledges on a petition in one state before much of anything will change. In fact, similar to efforts of doing away with the Electoral College altogether and moving to a national popular vote, splitting the President and Vice President up as separate ballot line items would create an interesting scenario of new winners and new losers.
Usually, in these circumstances or efforts to alter national elections, the greatest opposition comes from the major political parties. Neither the Republican National Committee nor the Democratic National Committee would be eager to give up control of the ticket comprising VP and President. Perhaps if for no other reason than it would open up essentially a second national election which could draw more interest from third-parties and independent Vice Presidential runs.
Don’t want to put a Libertarian in the Oval Office? No problem, vote for your favorite Republican or Democratic president and give the Vice President position to someone outside the major party system.
Vice.run envisions the role of Vice President taking on new meaning, with a new mandate from the people:
Imagine a democratically elected vice president. That changes everything!
A vice president whose ideas and plans are tested and reviewed through an electoral process, just like the one every other elected official goes through.
A vice president with a mandate from voters to get things done. To unite the country. To help Congress and the White House work together. To solve real problems, like America’s long-term economic plan.
We can have this vice president, but only if his or her power derives from the people.
It’s a great topic to discuss and the possibilities would certainly shift how we fight presidential elections in modern times. Voters seem overwhelmed with just a handful of major candidates. Now imagine if the Vice President was a separate office to run for.
There are over twenty Democratic candidates running for President. What if there were twenty more seeking the Vice President position? This could get out of hand rather quickly.
If you’re interested in making this happen, visit Vice.run and drill down to your state to sign your state petition.