We’ve seen plenty of protest movements lately seeking to change the way we handle national elections. The most high-profile one is probably the push to do away with the Electoral College and go to a popular vote model. Others want the states to award all of their EC votes to the winner of the popular vote, leading to basically the same result. But there’s another effort underway to make a slightly more subtle, but still significant change. Vice.run is trying to gather signatures and build support for putting the VP on a separate ballot line, allowing the voters to directly elect the Vice President rather than having to accept whoever the party’s candidate picks as a running mate. (ABC News)
There’s a national push for voters to elect the U.S. vice president separately from the president.
Vice.run, is a campaign that seeks to create a separate and independent ballot line for the vice president in 2020. The group is trying to collect — from all 50 states — voter signatures and pledges in support of the separate vice president election.
“An independently-elected vice president would give American voters a new level of direct control over who serves in the White House,” Vice.run says on its website. “Further, a separately-elected vice president could provide a moderating influence on the partisanship of the president.”
This isn’t a new idea, by the way. If you dig back in the archives you’ll see that the New York Times published a lengthy letter calling for this change back in 1988. Most references I see regarding how we started using the current system reference the 12th amendment and the rise of the two-party system, starting with the elections of 1804.
I’ll confess, even after going back and reading the relevant material, I’m still not entirely sure that we have to do it this way, at least based on the wording of the 12th Amendment. If not, then perhaps it could be done without a constitutional amendment. (I’ll leave that one for the experts.)
But would we want to? And what benefits would such a plan offer? I get that the original intention of setting up our current system was to avoid having a president and vice president from different parties. (That whole mess with Adams and Jefferson probably left everyone with a sour taste in their mouths.) But if that’s what the people want in some given election cycle, why not? Frankly, it seems very unlikely to happen as far as I’m concerned. Ticket splitting at the top would be a fairly radical step.
It would make the debates a lot more interesting, or so I would guess. You’d want to have more than a single VP debate and people would probably pay more attention. But the other question is how the VP candidates would wind up on the ballot. Would we need a separate vote in the primaries as well? I’d assume so. In that case, anyone who was doing poorly in the runup to the Iowa caucuses might consider dropping out and running for Veep. But what happens if the people elect a vice president that the president absolutely hates? We’d be back to the wild and crazy 1700s where the nation’s Vice President was left sitting out in the cold with no duties of any import.
Not sure where I stand on this one yet. I’ll be interested to hear from others on the subject.