Race to the Finish, May the Best Man Win
Throughout its extensive history America has an extremely unique Presidential election history. There have been a handful of elections where candidates have won by landslides and in others where they have won by a very slim margin. But there are three elections that stand out in American History as being won by a slim margin, these are the elections of 1796, 1876 and especially the election of 1800. These elections became so significant that an amendment was made.
The first close election occurred in 1796 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This election easily demonstrates where the Electoral College quickly and without conflict resolved a very close election. The Electoral College votes tallied 71 to 68 in John Adams’ favor. This is one of the main benefits of having the Electoral College, it typically allows for almost instant clarity when put under dispute. This is because of its black and white nature, by this I mean that rather than having the entire population have the election in question and argue about it there is a rather small group of officials who are able to resolve any issue within the election.
Rutherford B. Hayes let out a sigh of relief when he beat Samuel J. Tilden by one electoral vote in 1876. Although, Tilden won the popular vote by 254,694 votes Hayes won the electoral votes 185-184. During the election process, four states had their electoral votes in question. Congress delivered the issue to Electoral Commission who decided to place Hayes as President.
The closest election happened in 1880 when Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson earned the same amount of electoral votes. After it was announced that there was a tie each leader of the political parties picked electors, who voted for their party’s candidates. The House of Representatives was called to break the tie which led to the 12th Amendment.
After these elections the government found it necessary to make an amendment for these circumstances in case they occurred in the future. Cornell University Law School states in “12th Amendment” that “…the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately” (Cornell University Law School 1). This shows how the 12th Amendment shapes the results of close elections when there is a need to have a conflict resolved. It also prevents the country from having their votes recounted. If there was a need to have votes recounted they would only need to be recounted in specific states where the votes were thought as questionable or thought to be suspicious. If the 12th amendment was not in our constitution it would allow more chaos to come into the election and make it more difficult to establish a clear winner in these tight races.
"12th Amendment." Law.Cornell.edu. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web. 09 Apr.