Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Asker Anonymous Asks:
When does the electoral college meet to officially cast their votes for president and is that done at the capital building in Washington?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

The Electoral College actually never gathers together for a meeting.  The Electors who American voters chose on Election Day last month will meet on December 17th in their respective state capitals.  The Electoral College meets to officially cast their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December following Election Day. 

While each state has their own process for the meeting of their Presidential Electors, they don’t differ all that dramatically.  There are various formalities and for the casting of the votes and some strict protocols for officially sending the votes to state officials and then to Congress, which officially counts and certifies the Electoral College results.  That takes place in a Joint Session of Congress in early January and that responsibility is one of the first major actions of the new Congress.  That means that, for the 2012 election, it will be the 113th Congress (which begins on January 3, 2013) instead of the 112th Congress (the Congress in office at the time of the 2012 election) which counts and officially certifies the Electoral College results.  In our case, that’s probably a good thing because if anybody could screw up counting the Electoral votes, it’s the abysmal 112th Congress.

Interestingly, it is usually the Vice President, in his Constitutional role as President of the Senate, who presides over the Joint Session and the certification of the Electoral College results.  Sometimes, that can lead to what must be an awkward and probably even somewhat heartbreaking experience of a Vice President presiding over the official certification of an election that he lost — something that has happened a few times recently: 1960 (Nixon, lost the Presidential election to Kennedy), 1968 (Humphrey, lost the Presidential election to Nixon), 1980 (Mondale, as Carter’s running mate), 1992 (Quayle, as Bush’s running mate), and, of course, 2000 (Gore, as famously seen in Fahrenheit 9/11.)

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