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Essay Sample: Twelfth-Amendment of the Constitution

4 pages
896 words
Boston College
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The constitution of the United States was written in 1787. It means the current constitution has existed for more than two centuries. It further means that not even a single person who wrote it is still alive. So Americans are being ruled by the principles established by the dead. It was for this reason that Thomas Jefferson argued that a constitution should be rewritten after every 19 years to overcome such a scenario whereby the living are subjected to rules established by those who have died. This has, however, not been the case. I feel that the American constitution contains Amendments that serve to disadvantage the American citizens than to uphold their constitutional rights and democracy. For example, given a chance to rewrite the constitution, one of the articles I would change would be the Twelfth-Amendment because it denies the citizens the chance to exercise their direct democracy and also makes presidential candidates to ignore large portion of the country during campaigns.

The Twelfth-Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1804 and provided for the election of the president and the vice-president through a system called the Electoral College. The Electoral College system comprises of representatives from each state, but the large states are assigned more representatives called the "electors". The electors award all their votes to the presidential candidate who has scooped the popular vote in each state. The electors are 538 in total. A president is declared elect if he or she garners 270 of the electors' votes. Electors are drawn from the nation's 435 Representatives, 100 senators and three electors from District of Columbia. Simply put, a candidate that wins a majority of votes in a state is awarded the state's electoral votes (Sanford, 2017).

The Electoral College sounds unique, but it has proved to be the barrier acting against peoples' direct democracy in electing their president. The founding fathers of the great America hoped to establish democratic principles that would see the creation of a fair and just government. However, the Electoral College has interfered with peoples' chance to directly elect a just government. Electoral College has made the popular vote, which is the direct will of the voter, play a minimal role in electing the government of the day (Gardner & Charles, 2017). This is because of the "winner take all" principle which means that people who disagree with the majority voters in a state do not have their will reflected in the voting system at all and this is against democratic principle of one-person, one-vote. Such an Amendment that does not allow people to exercise their democratic principles should be rewritten.

In addition to denying American citizens their direct democracy, the Twelfth-Amendment, through Electoral College, has made presidential candidates to ignore a large portion of the country during campaigns as they concentrate of "swing states." In the concluded 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton spent more than 90% of their campaign stops in the 11 swing states ignoring the largest portion of the nation (Nelson, 2017). This is because the Electoral College allows the presidential race to be decided by a handful of states because they have the highest number of electors. If the race were to be determined by a popular vote, the candidates would have spent equal time in all parts of the nation during campaigns. I would, therefore, seek to rewrite the Twelfth-Amendment to see that a presidential vote is not determined by Electoral College to minimize the tendency of candidates giving more attention to certain parts of the nation and ignoring others.

Moreover, the Electoral College provided for by the Twelfth-Amendment has allowed for unfair selection of the electors by states. Between 1999 and 2012, it has emerged that 99% of the electors chosen by states have kept their pledges to a single presidential candidate rather than representing the popular interests (Pika, Maltese & Rudalevige, 2016). Electors represent the party and bureaucratic interests rather than working as agents of the state legislature. The fact that electors do not represent the interests of the majority implies that the president elected does not reflect the will of the majority rather than the will of their parties. This has even been proved by 2016 election where Clinton won in the popular vote but failed to take the country's top seat only for Trump who had less popular vote declared the president.


It is crystal clear that the Twelfth-Amendment created an impaired presidential election system that does not allow the people to directly elect their government. The peoples' direct democracy is impaired by the Amendment. The "indirect" manner of electing the president through electors has even had negative impacts such as presidential candidates spending an unequal amount of time and other resources campaigning in other areas of the nation. Given these reasons, I believe that the Twelfth-Amendment of the United States Constitution should be rewritten. It should be rewritten in a manner that the people of America can directly elect their government through a popular vote as this is the only way to exercise direct democracy of one-person, one vote.



Gardner, J. A., & Charles, G. U. (2017). Election Law in the American Political System. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

Nelson, M. (Ed.). (2017). The Elections of 2016. Cq Press.

Pika, J. A., Maltese, J. A., & Rudalevige, A. (2016). The politics of the presidency. Cq Press.

Sanford V. Levinson, A Common Interpretation: The 12th Amendment of the Electoral College,, Nov 7, 2017.


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