Why Is the 12th Amendment Important?

12th-amendment-important Credit: Steven Depolo/CC-BY 2.0

The 12th Amendment of the United States Constitution establishes voting protocols by requiring separate votes for candidates running for positions of president and vice president. The 12th Amendment creates voting procedures in the event of a tie as well. If ties occur, or races prove too close to call, the 12th Amendment gives the House of Representatives the responsibility of choosing candidates based on votes received.

The 12th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution during the presidential election year of 1804. The 12th Amendment established voting procedures and protocols to ensure the fair election of president and vice president. In addition for setting standards governing the placement of officials in office, the 12th Amendment contains protocols for repealing votes.

Prior to the 12th Amendment, presidential election in the U.S. had little oversight and guidance to ensure fairness. The election of 1800 shed light on the fact that presidential elections lay in the hands of an elite few, and that virtually no transparency existed in the election process. In 1800, presidential slots only opened to white male landowners.

Political parties also exerted tremendous influence on candidates, and essentially rigged the election process. In the election of 1800, the House of Representatives selected Thomas Jefferson as president, despite a tie. The 12th Amendment prevents such actions from occurring by ordering recounts during ties.