A Page from Our Book

Page 35 – Open the Certificates

Phase 2 – Candidate Selection

    Candidate selection was accomplished by counting the
    nominations; the five highest were the field of candidates.
    If a majority of the Electors nominated a particular
    individual, he would be named President, bypassing the
    deciding vote of the House of Representatives.
Open the Certificates

In the Constitution it is described as follows:

The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. (Article II Section 1 Clause 3)

At the designated time, the sealed, certified lists from each state were to be opened and tallied in the presence of the Senate and House as witnesses—narrowing the field to five candidates. …from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. (Article II Section 1 Clause 3) This method of determining candidates is not a result of debate or discussion. Five individuals nominated by the most Electors were to be presented to the House of Representatives for their final selection.

In a system free from intrigue and cabal, it seems rather intuitive that the House would almost always choose the president from these five candidates. When the sealed electoral votes are opened and counted there is a possibility that one outstanding individual will have been recognized by a majority of the Electors. The Constitution provides a shortcut:

– The Shortcut