Does The Electoral College Vote For Vice President & President Separately?

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: Vice President-elect Mike Pence arrives at Trump Tower on December 15, 2016 in New York City. President-Elect Donald Trump continues to hold meetings with potential members of his cabinet at his office. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Electoral College will meet on Monday to formally vote for the next president and vice president of the United States. The process by which the electors vote is receiving substantially more attention this than it usually does, thanks to the massive, aching gap between Donald Trump's expected 38-vote victory in the Electoral College and Hillary Clinton's 2.8 million-ballot victory in the popular vote. One question in particular about the process has intrigued some voters: Does the Electoral College vote for president and vice president separately, or are they included on the same ballot?

When they meet on Dec. 19, the electors will cast separate ballots for president and vice president. This is mandated by the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804, which states that electors "shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President." After that, the electors in each state tally up the votes, and then prepare a document called the Certificate of Vote, which enumerates how the electors voted. Six copies of this document are then prepared and sent to various state and federal officials.

In most elections, this process is nothing but a formality, but because the majority of voters in 2016 did not vote for Trump, it's now drawing a whole lot of scrutiny and derision. Several electors have stated that they won't vote for the candidate that their state supported as a means of protesting Trump's victory. The most notable of them is Christopher Suprun, a Republican elector from Texas who refuses to vote for Trump, but there's also a group of Democratic electors who plan to cast protest votes as well.

However, the chances that these faithless electors will prevent Trump from becoming the next president are slim to none. In order for that to happen, 36 electors from states that voted for Trump would have to cast their ballots for Clinton instead, and there's simply no indication that this will happen. An Associated Press survey of 303 electors in both parties found "little appetite for a revolt," and other than Suprun, no Republican electors have publicly stated their intent to vote for somebody other than Trump, let alone Clinton.

The Electoral College is a fundamentally undemocratic system, and this year, it has directly thwarted the will of the majority of American voters. Thirty-six electors in various states have the power to prevent this outcome from coming to fruition, but by all indications, they aren't going to.

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