The Next Vice-President May Be the Next President

The persons selected to be the 2016 Vice-Presidential running mates for the Republican and Democratic parties may be far more important than their senior running mates and even more significant to our nation's future than anyone properly perceives today. 2016 could be the election that shows the catastrophic defects in our Constitution.

Neither the President nor the Vice-President are actually elected on Election Day. Instead, a list of Electors are chosen in the individual state elections; those Electors being the voters who actually elect both the President and the Vice-President.

The candidate for President who gets a majority of the votes in the Electoral College is the winner and next President of the United States. The same procedure is followed to elect the Vice-President. If, however, no Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate receives an Electoral College majority then the deciding votes are cast by the House of Representatives or the Senate for Vice-President. And in the House each state delegation, regardless of size or the state's population, gets one vote.

Should the 2016 election end up in the House and Senate the individual state delegations there are limited to choosing the President from the top 3 Electoral College vote winners. The Vice-President can be chosen only between the top 2 Electoral College candidates for that office. Here, enter Chaos. In the worst of possible circumstances, where the Senate may quickly agree on a Vice-President (having only the choice between 2), but where the House may be endlessly deadlocked in arriving at a majority for President (choosing here among 3 or maybe more), the Vice-President so selected, according to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, will be sworn in and proceed immediately to act as President. If and when the House votes in the majority for a new President, the acting President will return to the Vice-Presidency as the new President takes office. However, it is possible that never happens.

Should no President be formally selected by a majority of the states voting in the House, the Vice-President who will already be acting as President throughout this period of indecision, may well continue to serve as the President until the next Presidential election, which would not be until 2020.

So, if no candidate receives an Electoral College majority after the 2016 Presidential election, we might very well end up with either the Republican Party or Democratic Party candidate for Vice-President assuming the "Acting" Presidency in early 2017, and very possibly keeping that office.

If you don't think this could happen - and happen more easily than you think - consider this: 249 of the necessary 270 Electoral College votes are totally unbound to vote for anyone, regardless of their state elections and certifications. In 24 states there are no legally binding obligations placed on Electors(*1). The 249 number increases to 262 Electoral votes when you count the 13 Electors in Virginia who are bound by a very vague state law rather than a strict requirement. They might simply rebel without consequence.

If many Americans find themselves dissatisfied with the eventual nominees of their party, especially if those dissatisfied are among the most influential, wealthiest and well known Americans, the real electoral battle next fall may be to end up as the #3 in line for President when all the Electoral College votes are officially counted. Remember, the House gets to pick only from the top 3. And what if there were a tie for 3rd? What if three or four or even more otherwise legally eligible candidates receive the same number of Electoral College votes and finish all tied for 3rd place behind the candidates of the two major political parties? In this scenario the House, voting by state - which means Wyoming has the same vote as California; North Dakota the same vote as New York; Delaware the same vote as Texas - may be selecting from among a half-dozen candidates, at least some of whom may actually have never run for the office.

Chaos would probably win out should this situation come to pass. But only in choosing a President. Despite the various difficulties facing the House in picking the next President from among a number of candidates, the next Vice-President is certain to be either the Republican or Democratic parties' candidate because only the top 2 are eligible. So, the next Vice-President may end up as the next President.

After giving all this some thought, we need nobody but ourselves to devise a slew of feasible conspiracies; and who's to say which would have value and which wouldn't? If, as has been said, there are many ways to skin a cat, there are quite a few too to "elect" or "chose" or "install" a President. It sure looks like the easiest may end up being running for Vice-President on one of the two major party tickets. Before we think we are both sure and unworried how this will be resolved, we ought to give serious thought to the very real dangers our own constitution, and its Twelfth Amendment, have set in the path of electing our next President and Vice-President.
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*1: The following states, with 249 combined Electoral College votes, have no state laws binding the persons who are selected and certified as Electoral College voters: ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, DELAWARE, GEORGIA, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, MINNESOTA, MISSOURI, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, NORTH DAKOTA, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH DAKOTA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, UTAH, WEST VIRGINIA
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/laws.html