Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day, the Electoral College, and My Ancestor

Today is election day! I know this because 3,518 robots and one Clint Eastwood have left me voicemails reminding me to vote (and were even so kind as to let me know for whom I should vote). So, I'm going to take a brief break from employment law for a fun post on the electoral college and one of my ancestors. As you probably know, we don't vote directly for the president of the United States. Instead, we vote for an electoral college that in turn elects the president. As the Constitution provides:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
From there, the Twelfth Amendment kicks in:
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;
On this election day, I thought I would share a fun fact about myself. My great great [insert some-number-of-"greats"] grandfather was Samuel Miles, who has the distinction of being the United States' first faithless elector. He was chosen to vote for John Adams, but instead cast his vote for Thomas Jefferson. I have no idea why (if you have info, drop me a comment).

In any event, get out there and vote - and hope that your elector votes the way he or she is supposed to! Also, employers may want to check out Employee Voting Leave Laws in their state.

Image: That's Samuel Miles! Can you see the family resemblance? Public domain for reasons explained here.