Article 2, Section 1, Clause 4

Document 2

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§ 1469--70


§ 1469. The propriety of this power would seem to be almost self-evident. Every reason of public policy and convenience seems in favour of a fixed time of giving the electoral votes, and that it should be the same throughout the Union. Such a measure is calculated to repress political intrigues and speculations, by rendering a combination among the electoral colleges, as to their votes, if not utterly impracticable, at least very difficult; and thus secures the people against those ready expedients, which corruption never fails to employ to accomplish its designs. The arts of ambition are thus in some degree checked, and the independence of the electors against external influence in some degree secured. This power, however, did not escape objection in the general, or the state conventions, though the objection was not extensively insisted on.

§ 1470. In pursuance of the authority given by this clause, congress, in 1792, passed an act declaring, that the electors shall be appointed in each state within thirty-four days, preceding the first Wednesday in December in every fourth year, succeeding the last election of president, according to the apportionment of representatives and senators then existing. The electors chosen are required to meet and give their votes on the said first Wednesday of December, at such place in each state, as shall be directed by the legislature thereof. They are then to make and sign three certificates of all the votes by them given, and to seal up the same, certifying on each, that a list of the votes of such state for president and vice-president is contained therein, and shall appoint a person to take charge of, and deliver, one of the same certificates to the president of the senate at the seat of government, before the first Wednesday of January then next ensuing; another of the certificates is to be forwarded forth-with by the post-office to the president of the senate at the seat of government; and the third is to be delivered to the judge of the district, in which the electors assembled. Other auxiliary provisions are made by the same act for the due transmission and preservation of the electoral votes; and authenticating the appointment of the electors. The president's term of office is also declared to commence on the fourth day of March next succeeding the day, on which the votes of the electors shall be given.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 4, Document 2
The University of Chicago Press

Story, Joseph. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. 3 vols. Boston, 1833.

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