Guest Essayist: The Honorable John N. Hostettler
Congress Sets Times for Electors
Article II, Section 1. Clause 4:
The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Title 3, Chapter 1 of the U.S. Code describes the timeframe for the choosing of and voting by members of the Electoral College.
Sec. 1: The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.18
Sec. 7: The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.19 [emphasis added]
Choosing Electors: A Case Study
The presidential election of 2000 provided an excellent insight into the practical application of the Constitution’s provision for choosing electors for that office. After the polls closed on November 7, 2000, attention soon turned to the state of Florida and a growing controversy over punch-card ballots used in a few of its counties. The combined count of the electors from all of the states presumed to be assigned to the Democrat candidate Albert Gore, Jr. Republican candidate George W. Bush indicated that the race was going to be close that the results of the popular vote for president in Florida would determine the outcome of the race. This was due to the fact that the assignment of electors would be determined by that popular vote.