After the People Vote: Steps in Choosing the President

After the People Vote: Steps in Choosing the President

After the People Vote: Steps in Choosing the President

After the People Vote: Steps in Choosing the President

Excerpt

It is always possible that an independent candidate for the presidency will deprive one or the other of the major party candidates of an electoral college majority. In 1980, when the pre-election polls showed John Anderson to have substantial popular support, this possibility gave rise to a number of journal articles purporting to describe what might happen "if nobody wins." Some of these were highly imaginative, and not all of them, sober or imaginative, were accurate in all their details. For example, in an Atlantic Monthly piece, Laurence H. Tribe, a well-known constitutional lawyer, and Thomas M. Rollins, suggested that Congress might, as it did in 1876, appoint a commission to resolve electoral disputes. In 1887, however, Congress passed a law, still in force, to prevent a recurrence of the 1876 episode. Mistakes of this sort and the unavailability of an authoritative document on the subject led us, all political scientists associated with the American Enterprise Institute, to write this statement--or guide-- and offer it to the press and the general public. Because the system described depends on the interactions of the Constitution, federal and state statutes, and party and parliamentary rules, this study should be especially interesting to students enrolled in courses on the American political system.

The following persons contributed to this work or offered their counsel: Ann Diamond, Robert Goldwin, Evron Kirkpatrick, Michael Malbin, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, Howard Penniman, Austin Ranney, Richard Scammon, and William Schambra.

WALTER BERNS

Washington, D.C.

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