In a situation outlined in the 12th amendment where

" and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President."

Is the representation from each state compelled to make a selection from the top 3 ? Can they abstain from voting and what are the legal consequences of doing so ? Also if they can abstain from voting for President would that block them from being able to vote for Vice President ?

  • I am pretty sure I didn't write that originally, edited it back, Apr 27, 2016 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


The House of Representatives cannot vote for Vice President if no one has a majority. That's the Senate's job. They can't be blocked from doing it, because it was never something they could do in the first place.

As for the selection of the President, not only can they abstain, they may be forced to abstain. In both such elections (1801 and 1825), the rule was that the state delegation could only cast their vote for a candidate in a round if a majority of its members present and voting supported that candidate in that round. No majority, no vote. As for individual members, 1801 saw lots of blank ballots being cast.

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