General Historical Information Prior to 1900

   In the political system of the United States, the body of electors in
each State who have been chosen to select the President and Vice-President.
The expression does not appear in the Constitution or statutes, but is a
popular designation of the electors, adopted by analogy to the college of
cardinals, to which the choice of the popes is committed. It is sometimes
employed of the whole body of electors for President and Vice-President,
chosen by all the States. The Constitution prescribes (Art. II.; and
Amendments, Art. XII.) the number of electors and the manner in which they
shall exercise their high functions, but leaves to the States the mode of
appointing them, and to Congress the power to determine a uniform time for
choosing them and the day on which they shall give their votes.Accordingly,
the members of the electoral college in each and every State are chosen
simultaneously by popular vote on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in
November. Their number is equal to the whole number of Representatives which
the State sends to both branches of Congress. They are required to meet at
some place designated by the Legislature of their State on the second Monday
in January, and then and there to vote by ballot for President and
Vice-President, of whom one, at least, shall not be a resident of the same
State with themselves. Each electoral college then makes a list of the names
of all its candidates for President and Vice-President, with the number of
votes for each; the list is signed and certified by every member of the
college, is authenticated by the Governor of the State, and transmitted to
the President of the Senate of the United States. On the second Wednesday in
February the electoral votes are opened and counted in presence of both
Houses of Congress, assembled in the chamber of Representatives, and the
result is announced by the president of the Senate. The persons who receive
the highest number of votes, respectively, for the offices of President and
Vice-President are declared elected, provided they have received a majority
of all the votes. In case of a tie, the House of Representatives, voting by
States, each State having one vote, is to choose between the equal
candidates for President, a majority of all the States being necessary to a
choice. The Senate has the power to choose in case of a tie in the vote for
Vice-President. In the same way, in case there is no tie, but the leading
candidates fail to receive a majority of all the votes, the election for
President is thrown into the House, and that for Vice-President into the
Senate. Under the Constitution as originally framed the electoral colleges
did not designate their choice for President or Vice-President but when the
total votes were counted by the President of the Senate, the candidate
receiving the highest number of votes was declared to be elected President,
and his nearest competitor Vice-President. But the Twelfth Amendment to the
Constitution, adopted in 1804, changed the mode of voting for the two
officers, the electors being required to vote separately for President and
   The present position and functions of the electoral college furnish a
striking illustration of the way in which a written and stable constitution
may be undermined and amended by the silent process of customary observance.
It is obvious that the Constitution contemplates that the electoral college
in each State shall be a deliberative body of men, freely exercising an
untrammeled choice for the high offices which they are to fill. They are not
called upon, nor are they expected, to vote as a unit, still less to meet
for the sole purpose of registering a result which has already been reached
elsewhere and by others. That this remarkable change in the conception of
the constitutional functions of the electoral college has been brought about
is due to the course of our political development, and particularly to the
national convention system of nominating candidates for the Presidency and
Vice-Presidency. These conventions are not recognized by the Constitution,
nor have their nominations any legally binding force. But the electors,
subsequently nominated and elected for the sole purpose of giving the vote
of the State to a certain party candidate, are as securely bound to that
course of action by custom and honor as they would be by statute. The
people, consequently, elect the President and Vice-President by States, and
the college is a cumbrous machine for formally conveying to Washington the
wishes of the majority. Since 1801 the vote of an elector has been known
with certainty several weeks before it is cast, and several months before it
is officially announced. The electoral system has constantly endangered the
State, on account of the absence, until recently, of any general law to
govern the president of the Senate in his canvass of the votes, and the
tendency of Congress to decide every case of doubt or disputed returns
arbitrarily as it arose. Nothing was accomplished, however, until 1887, when
a law was passed (approved February 3) to cover the contingency of rival
electoral colleges and disputed returns. Under the terms of this act, each
State is conceded to have the right of determining all controversies or
contests regarding the appointment of its own Presidential electors; and in
case of any such contest, Congress is to accept the State's settlement of
the same as conclusive, and it cannot reject any electoral vote, duly
certified, unless both Houses concurrently decide that that vote has been
irregularly given. If more than one return from a State is received, only
those votes are to be counted which the State itself has indorsed as
regular; but if the State has been unable to settle the question, owing to
its having two or more rival sets of authorities, or from any other cause,
then the two Houses are to decide the dispute. See Constitution of the
United States; Convention; President; and the authorities there referred to.

        General Historical Information Prior to 1900

   In United States history, the body of men provided for by an act of
Congress, approved January 29, 1877, to settle certain disputed questions in
regard to the electoral votes of several States in the Presidential election
of 1876. As the counting of the electoral votes in the presence of the two
Houses of Congress proceeded according to custom, it had been found that
there were conflicting certificates from four different States--Florida,
Louisiana, Oregon, and South Carolina; and the two Houses were unable to
agree in any case which certificate should be received as genuine. The
Senate at the time was controlled by the Republican Party, the House of
Representatives by the Democratic Party, and there was thought to be danger
of civil disturbances on account of certain questions likely to arise in the
counting of the electoral votes. Under these circumstances, a majority of
each of the two political parties in Congress agreed to create a commission
to be composed of five Senators, chosen by the Senate; five members of the
House of Representatives, chosen by that body; and five associate justices
of the Supreme Court, four of whom were designated by the act of Congress,
and the fifth of whom was to be selected by the four--to which commission
should be referred, for judgment and decision, the question which of two or
more conflicting certificates received from any State of the votes cast by
the electoral college of such State for President and Vice-President in the
election of 1876 was the certificate provided for in the Constitution of the
United States. The judgment of the commission in any matters referred to it,
unless set aside by the concurrent action of the Houses of Congress, was to
be final. The proposed law was thereupon enacted, and the Senate appointed
three Republicans and two Democrats, and the House of Representatives three
Democrats and two Republicans as members of the commission. Of the four
associate justices of the Supreme Court who were named in the law, two were
understood to be Democrats and two Republicans; and these selected as the
fifth associate justice to serve with them upon the commission, Mr. Justice
Bradley, a Republican. The commission was constituted as follows; Justices
Clifford, Strong, Miller, Field, and Bradley; Senators Edmunds, Morton,
Frelinghuysen, Thurman, and Bayard;  and Representatives Payne, Hunton,
Abbott, Garfield, and Hoar. Upon the illness of Senator Thurman, his place
was filled by the choice of Senator Kernan. The certificates and
accompanying papers were successively referred to the commission, which
proceeded to hear argument upon the questions involved. A notable group of
distinguished lawyers participated in the conduct of the case, William M.
Evarts, Stanley Matthews, E.W. Stoughton, and Samuel Shellabarger
representing the Republicans, and Judge J.S. Black, Matthew H. Carpenter,
Charles O'Conor, J.A. Campbell, Lyman Trumbull, Ashbel Green, Montgomery
Blair, George Hoadley, William C. Whitney, R.T. Merrick, and A.P. Morse
representing the Democrats. The result in the case of each State was a
decision of the commission, by a vote of 8 to 7--the vote following the line
of party division in the body--that the certificate of the electoral votes
cast for Hayes and Wheeler, the Republican candidates for President and
Vice-President, was the certificate which contained the lawful electoral
vote of said State, and that the other certificates were illegal and void.
The Republican Senate concurred in this judgment in each case, while the
Democratic House of Representatives dissented. The decision of the
commission, therefore, according to the terms of the statute, became
irrevocable; the electoral votes were counted accordingly; and Rutherford B.
Hayes and William A. Wheeler were found duly elected, by a majority of one
electoral vote, respectively President and Vice-President for a term of four
years, from March 4,  1877. The controlling question before the commission
was whether--an electoral certificate being in form according to law, as
those in favor of the Republican candidates were--it was competent for
Congress or the commission to go behind the same and take evidence modifying
or explanatory (aliunde) in support of alleged irregularities and frauds
commited before such certificate was issued. Upon this question the
Democrats in Congress and in the commission took the affirmative, while the
Republicans took the negative. The full proceedings of the commission were
published as part iv., vol. v. of the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD of 1877.

                     ELECTORAL REFORM
         General Historical Information Prior to 1900

   In general, any improvement by law or custom in the manner of conducting
elections to public office. Specifically, the phrase describes the movement
of the last hundred years for the purification of elections in Great Britain
and the United States.
   It is of the utmost importance, in a State whose government rests wholly
or in great part on popular suffrage, that public elections should be free
and honest. When they are of this character public officials are true
representatives of the people, and the legislation and policies which such
officials adopt fairly reflect the popular will. The tendency, however, in
every representative government is toward the control of nominating
conventions and of elections by small bodies of men whose energies are
chiefly directed to the manipulation of caucuses and party machinery. While
the great mass of electors are engrossed in the conduct of their private
affairs, these professional politicians, taking advantage of the popular
apathy, dictate nominations to office, force party conventions to register
their secret choices, and control the entire machinery of elections.
   Accordingly, agitation for electoral reforms has usually been directed
toward one of three ends; (1) A change in the qualifications of electors;
(2) securing to electors the free and effective expression of their choice
of officers; (3) the punishment of those guilty of corrupt practices in
connection with elections.
(1) QUALIFICATIONS OF ELECTORS.  Both in Great Britain and in the United
States the State has treated the elective franchise as a privilege of its
citizens, and not as one of their natural rights. Hence it has bestowed that
privilege from time to time upon those, and those only, who it has been
considered would use it wisely and for the best interests of the State.
Public opinion concerning the proper qualifications of voters has undergone
many changes during the last hundred years. In the main, these have been in
the direction of extending the franchise to new classes of voters, of
broadening the basis of the electorate. When the United States became
independent, suffrage was limited in every one of the commonwealths to
property-owners. In Massachusetts it was required not only that the voter be
of age, but that he be the owner of real estate worth L60 sterling, or of a
freehold yielding L3 annual income. In New York it was necessary that he be
seized of a freehold worth L20, or pay a rent of 40 shillings a year, and
have his name on the list of taxpayers. South Carolina insisted upon the
voter being a white freeman and freeholder, and believing in the existence
of a God and in a future state of rewards and punishment.
   During the last century, however, most of the States accepted the theory
of universal manhood suffrage, and extended the elective franchise to all
male citizens of twenty-one years and upward, while a few of the States have
granted to women also the privilege of voting. Although the tide of
electoral reform in this country has set mainly in the direction of
universal suffrage, in some States its purpose has been to impose
restrictions upon the elective franchise. California , for example, has
enacted that no person who is unable to read the State Constitution in the
English language and write his name shall ever exercise the privilege of a
State elector. Connecticut and Massachusetts impose somewhat similar
restrictions upon voters. Several of the Southern States have recently
limited the suffrage by imposing educational qualifications upon voters, or
by requiring them to pay certain taxes. This policy has for its prime object
the disqualification of ignorant and indigent negroes. In Louisiana and some
other States persons are permitted to vote who do not possess the prescribed
qualifications, provided they were entitled to vote on January 1, 1867, or
are sons or grandsons of persons thus entitled. The class thus excepted
includes poor  and illiterate whites.
   In Great Britain the trend of electoral reform has followed the same
general course as in the United States, although it has not yet reached the
goal of universal manhood suffrage. The electorate has been extended several
times, until it includes not only copyholders, leaseholders, and
householders of premises of small values, but also men occupying lodgings of
the yearly value of  L10. Agitation is still in progress for extending the
elective franchise to all men of proper age and sound mind, without regard
to the ownership or occupation of property, and also for enabling women to
(2) PROTECTION OF VOTERS. It is of prime importance that perfect freedom of
choice should be secured to electors. Hence the secret ballot has been
substituted for the viva voce vote (see BALLOT), and bribery and
intimidation of electors are treated as grave criminal offenses. Not only
should the elector be allowed to exercise his free choice at the polls, but
that freedom ought not to be rendered ineffective by the improper
manipulation of caucuses or primaries, or by giving to the voters of some
districts undue advantage over others. The caucus or primary is a meeting of
the members of a particular political party or group for the purpose of
nominating candidates for office within a prescribed district, or of
electing delegates to larger conventions of the party, or of declaring party
principles. These gatherings have often been controlled by unscrupulous
persons, who have not hesitated to resort to fraud and violence. In order
that the party caucus or primary should reflect the views of the majority of
the party electors of the district, statutes have been enacted in several
States surrounding these voluntary gatherings with many of the legal
safeguards which protect general elections. The place and time for the
caucus or primary is fixed by law; the manner of registration and voting is
prescribed, and severe criminal penalties are affixed to fraudulent or
violent manipulations of these meetings.
   While this legal regulation of the primary has done much to mitigate its
evils, it is still open to the objection that it leaves the control of the
nominating system in the hands of the party managers, and practically
excludes the independent voter from exercising any considerable influence in
the selection of candidates for public office. The recent increase in the
number of independent voters has given them new weight in politics, and they
are now demanding a further reform, which has in contemplation the
substitution of "direct" for primary and caucus nominations. This is to be
effected by permitting a specified number of registered voters to place a
candidate in nomination directly, by a written declaration signed by them
and without the intervention of the machinery of caucuses and conventions
now employed. All candidates for a given office being nominated in the same
simple and direct way, it is assumed that they will represent the
unconstrained choice of the electorate, and that all will occupy an equal
footing as candidates. The method of "direct nominations", as it is called,
has recently been adopted in several of the Western States and is apparently
meeting with increasing favor in other parts of the country. The experiment
is too new, however, to furnish any satisfactory evidence of its real value.
   A flagrant example of the control of elections by corrupt party managers
was formerly afforded by the pocket and rotten boroughs of England, which
were disfranchised by the Reform Bill of 1832. These were boroughs (having
the right to elect members of Parliament) that were controlled by
non-resident noblemen, either by reason of their landed proprietorship or of
their purchase of the electors. In many of them the number of voters was
very small. For example, the borough of Gatton had but seven electors, and
that of Old Sarum but one--the keeper of an alehouse. When Lord Russell
introduced his Reform Bill in 1831, 90 members of Parliament were returned
by 46 boroughs with less than 50 votes each, and a majority of the House of
Commons was elected by 15,000 out of 3,000,000 male adults. One peer
controlled boroughs which sent up 11 members of his choice to the House of
Commons, while some of the great manufacturing centres had no representation
in Parliament. The Reform Bill disfranchised 56 of these rotten boroughs,
and made a new distribution of Parliamentary representatives throughout the
   A condition of things somewhat similar to that in Britain when Lord
Russell introduced his Reform Bill exists in some of our States, notably
Connecticut, where the unit of legislative representation is the township. A
century and a half ago such a basis of representation was a fair one. Now it
is not. Many of the towns have now a smaller population than a hundred years
ago, while others have increased their voters a thousandfold.  As a result,
a handful of electors in a rural township may have an equal voice in the
State Legislature with a thousand electors in a large village or a city.
Agitations for a redistribution of legislative representatives will continue
undoubtedly until the present condition of things in such States is changed.
   The Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution provides that when
the right to vote at any Federal or State election is denied to any of the
male inhabitants of a State "being twenty-one years of age and citizens of
the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in
rebellion or other crime, the basis of representation [ in Congress} therein
shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens
shall bear to the whole."
(3) CORRUPT ELECTORAL PRACTICES. The most heinous of these are false
personation and repeating by voters, and bribery and intimidation by
candidates for office or their partisans. Both in Britain and in this
country repeated efforts have been made by legislators to eradicate these
practices, but without entire success. Perhaps the most comprehensive and
rigorous piece of legislation of this sort is the British Corrupt Practices
Act of 1883, with its amendments. Its principal features are: (1) The severe
penalties inflicted upon those guilty of false personation at the polls or
of voting more than once at the same election, as well as upon all who
indulge in the intimidation, undue influence, or bribery of voters; (2) the
restriction within very narrow limits of the employment of paid agents,
clerks, messengers, and others by candidates or election committees: (3) the
prescribing of a fixed scale of lawful expenditures by candidates and
committees; (4) requiring a full and correct account of such expenditures.
Several of our States have laws of a similar character. Although none of
them are as sweeping or as effective as the British act, their results have
been beneficial.
   A lucid account of the provisions and working of the British statute, by
its draftsman. Sir Henry James, will be found in THE FORUM for April, 1893
(vol. xv., p. 129). The article is followed by accounts of similar statutes
in several of our States. Lord Bradbourne criticises  the British act in a
series of very entertaining articles on "Old Elections in England"
(Blackwood's Magazine, cli. 763, and id., clii. 38, 248, 688).
   Some of the grosser forms of fraud at elections, such as the use of
fraudelent and tissue ballots and the stuffing of ballot-boxes, have been
rendered obsolete by the adoption of the Australian ballot, and the
assumption by the State of the duty of furnishing an official ballot in
place of the party ballot formerly provided by the several party
organizations. The practice of repeating, dishonest counts, and false
returns of votes have been checked by the registration of voters, the
provision of an increased number of official watchers at the polls, and, in
some parts of the country, by the employment of voting and counting
Consult: Bishop, Colonial Elections (New York, 1893) ; Dallinger,
Nominations for Elective Office (New York, 1897);  Sturcks, Primary Election
Legislation (New York, 1898) ; Ward, Treatise on the Law Relating to
Parliamentary and Municipal Elections (2d ed., London, 1886).

                        ELECTORAL VOTES
          General Historical Information Prior to 1900

   The votes cast by Presidential electors in the United States for
thePresidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. The candidates for the two
offices were not voted for separately until after 1805, before  which time
the candidate receiving the largest total number of votes at any given
election was declared President, and the one receiving the next largest
number the Vice-President. The electoral votes cast in the various campaigns
since 1789 have been as follows:  In 1789: George Washington, 69; John
Adams, 34;  Samuel Huntington, 2;  John Jay, 9; John Hancock, 4;  Robert H.
Harrison, 6;  George Clinton, 3;  John Rutledge, 6;  John Milton, 2;  James
Armstrong,  Edward Telfair, and Benjamin Lincoln, each, 1.  In 1793; George
Washington,132;  John Adams, 77; George Clinton, 50;  Thomas Jefferson, 4;
Aaron Burr, 1. In 1797: John Adams, 71;  Thomas Jefferson, 68; Thomas
Pinckney, 59;  Aaron Burr, 30;  Samuel Adams, 15;  Oliver Ellsworth, 11;
George Clinton, 7;  John
Jay, 5;  James Iredell, 3;  Samuel Johnston, George Washington, and John
Henry, each, 2;  Charles C. Pinckney, 1.  In 1801: Thomas Jefferson and
Aaron Burr, each 73;  John Adams, 65;  C.C. Pinckney, 64;  John Jay, 1.  In
1805: for President, Thomas Jefferson, 162; C.C. Pinckney, 14;  for
Vice-President, George Clinton , 162;  Rufus King, 14.  In 1809: for
President,  James
Madison, 122;  C.C. Pinckney, 47;  George Clinton, 6; for Vice-President,
George Clinton, 113;  Rufus King, 47;  John Langdon 9:  James Monroe, 3; and
James Madison, 3.  In 1813; for President,  James Madison, 128;  DeWitt
Clinton, 89;  for Vice-President, Elbridge Gerry, 131;  Jared Ingersoll, 86.
In 1817: for President, James Monroe, 183;  Rufus King, 34;  for
Vice-President, Daniel D. Tompkins, 183;  John E. Howard, 22;  James Ross,
5;  John Marshall, 4;  Robert G. Harper, 3.  In 1821: for President, James
Monroe, 231;  John Q. Adams, 1; for Vice-President, Daniel D. Tompkins, 218;
Richard Stockton, 8;  Daniel Rodney, 4; Robert G. Harper, Richard Rush,
each, 1.  In 1825: for President, John Q. Adams, 84:  William H. Crawford,
41 ;  Andrew Jackson, 99;  Henry Clay, 37 ;  for Vice-President,  John C.
Calhoun, 182; Nathan Sanford, 30;  Nathaniel Macon, 24;  Andrew Jackson, 13;
Martin Van Buren, 9;  Henry Clay 2.  In 1829:  for President,   Andrew
Jackson, 178;  John Quincy Adams, 83;  for Vice-President,  John C. Calhoun,
171;  Richard Rush, 83;  William Smith, 7.  In 1833:  for President, Andrew
Jackson, 219;  Henry Clay, 49;  John Floyd, 11;  William Wirt, 7;   for
Vice-President, Martin Van Buren, 189;  John Sergeant, 49;  William Wilkins,
30;  Henry Lee, 11;  Amos Ellmaker, 7.  In 1837:  for President, Martin Van
Buren, 170;  William H.Harrison, 73;  Hugh L. White, 26;  Daniel Webster,
14;  Willie P. Mangum, 11;  for Vice-President, Richard M. Johnson, 147;
Francis Granger, 77; John Tyler, 47;  William Smith, 23.  In 1841:  for
President, William H. Harrison, 234;  Martin Van Buren, 60; for
Vice-President, John Tyler, 234;  Richard M. Johnson, 48;  Lyttleton W.
Tazewell, 11;  James K. Polk, 1.
In 1845; for President, James K. Polk, 170;  Henry Clay, 105;
for Vice-President, George M. Dallas, 170; Theodore Frelinghuysen, 105.  In
1849; for President, Zachary Taylor, 163;  Lewis Cass, 127;  for
Vice-President, Millard Fillmore, 163;  William O.Butler, 127.  In 1853: for
President, Franklin Pierce, 254;  Winfield Scott, 42;  for Vice-President,
William R. King, 254;  William A. Graham, 42.  In 1857: for President, James
Buchanan, 174;  John C. Fremont, 114;  Millard Fillmore, 8; for
Vice-President, John C. Breckinreidge, 174;  William L. Dayton, 114;  A.J.
Donelson, 8.  In 1861:  for President, Abraham Lincoln, 180;  John C.
Breckinridge, 72;  Stephen A. Douglas, 12;  John Bell, 39;  for
Vice-President, Hannibal Hamlin, 180;  Joseph Lane, 72;  Herschel V.
Johnson, 12;  Edward Everett, 39.  In 1865: for President, Abraham Lincoln,
212;  George B. McClellan, 21;  for Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, 212;
George H. Pendleton, 21.  In 1869:  for President, Ulysses S. Grant, 214;
Horatio Seymour, 80;  for Vice-President, Schuyler Colfax, 214;  Frank P.
Blair, Jr., 80.  In 1873: for President, Ulysses S. Grant, 286;  Thomas A.
Hendricks, 42;  B. Gratz Brown, 18 (Horace Greeley having died in November,
1872);  Charles J. Jenkins, 2;  David Davis, 1;  for Vice-President, Henry
Wilson, 286;  B. Gratz Brown, 47;  G.W. Julian, A.H. Colquitt, each, 5;
J.M. Palmer, T.E. Bramlette, each, 3; W.S. Groesbeck, W. B. Machen, N.P.
Banks, each, 1.  In 1877: for President, Rutherford B. Hayes, 185; Samuel J.
Tilden, 184; for Vice-President, William A.Wheeler, 185;  Thomas A.
Hendricks, 184. In 1881: for President, James A Garfield, 214;  Winfield S.
Hancock, 155;  for Vice-President, Chester A. Arthur, 214;  William H.
English, 155.  In 1885: for President, Grover Cleveland, 219;  James G.
Blaine, 182;  for Vice-President, Thomas A. Hendricks, 219;  John A. Logan,
182.  In 1889:  for President, Benjamin Harrison, 233;  Grover Cleveland,
168;  for Vice-President, Levi P. Morton, 233;  Allen G. Thurman, 168.  In
1893:  for President, Grover Cleveland, 277; Benjamin Harrison, 145
J.B.Weaver, 22;  for Vice-President, A. E. Stevenson, 277;  W. Reid, 145;
J.G. Field, 22.  In 1897: for President, William McKinlley, 271;  William J.
Bryan, 176; for Vice-President, Garret A. Hobart, 271;  Arthur Sewall, 149;
Thomas E. Watson, 27.  In 1901: for President, William McKinley, 292;
William J. Bryan, 155: for Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt 292; A.E.
Stevenson, 155.  Consult: Stanwood, History of the Presidency (Boston,

Source:  The New International Encyclopaedia
Publisher:  Dodd, Mead and Company-  New York
Copyright:  1902-1905        Total of 21 Volumes

                Transcribed by Miriam Medina
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