Coming from this post:

It is not unheard of that individual "faithless electors" vote different than mandated by the result in their state for whatever reason. [...] In 1836, 23 faithless electors for Virginia were almost successful when it came to electing the vice president. But that was the closest faithless electors ever came to changing an election outcome.

So, assuming enough electors were willing to vote, is there any obstacle to the runner-up of the Presidential Election becoming Vice-President?

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    Originally, the VP was the runner-up of the Presidential Election, but that proved to be unworkable due to difference of interest between the Presidents and their Vice Presidents.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 10, 2016 at 8:30
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    AFAIK, the electors can do anything as they please, up to electing you as POTUS if you qualify. I did read at the forum that a few States have laws that claim that the State has the right to change its electors votes if they are faithless, but so far it seems to have never been tested and I doubt it would stand if challenged. Of course, such an actuation would open a can of worms so the final consequences (impeachment? new elections?) are difficult to guess.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 10, 2016 at 8:51
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    @SJuan76 - "but that proved to be unworkable due to people being deeply flawed and placing factional interests above those of the country, d'oh". Fixed that for you :)
    – user4012
    Nov 10, 2016 at 13:18
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    Could Bill Clinton become First Husband anyway? Yes, if he divorces Hillary, Trump divorces his wife, and they marry. Could Hillary Clinton become Pope? Maybe, if the church allows women to become priest and if she converts to catholicism. Could Sanders become holy roman emperor? I'm not sure that this kind of question is really useful to understand the functioning of US institutions, or politics more generally.
    – Joël
    Nov 11, 2016 at 0:28
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    @SJuan76: "Originally, the VP was the runner-up of the Presidential Election, but that proved to be unworkable due to difference of interest between the Presidents and their Vice Presidents." This wasn't that much of a problem once there were party nominees and running mates, because each elector had two votes, and so the top two should always be a candidate and his running mate. But to do it right, the party had to arrange for one elector to abstain the vice presidential vote, to have the vice presidential candidate be 2nd; they messed this up in 1800 and it went to the House.
    – user102008
    Nov 11, 2016 at 2:02

2 Answers 2


Possible? Sure. See this question for more analysis of how many electors could switch. It's talking president, but the math is the same for vice-president (VP). It's mathematically possible.

Likely? Not in the least.

Republican electors are either Donald Trump or Republican partisans (some states let Trump pick while some let the party pick). Even if they don't like Trump (already a questionable assertion), they wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton over Mike Pence. Pence is the candidate on the ticket who is popular among Republican partisans. Even if Pence somehow became unpopular among Republicans, Clinton is already unpopular with Republicans. It's extremely unlikely that they'd vote for Clinton for anything but jail. If they did switch away from Pence, it would probably be to another Republican like Chris Christie or such.

The more likely situation would have been for the electoral college to deadlock (no one gets 270 votes) and send the vote to Congress. In that case, if Democrats had won the Senate, Tim Kaine could have been Trump's VP. Or faithless electors on the Democrat side could have voted for Clinton for VP and allowed the Senate to select her. But we already know that that didn't happen. The Republicans are guaranteed at least 51 Senate seats, so they'd pick the VP.


No, this is not possible.

Vice-presidential election procedure is defined by the 12th amedment

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 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.

The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; 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. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.[Note 1]

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Since Clinton got 0 electoral college votes for the vice-presidency (shocker, I know), she would not be eligable for the vice-presidency vote.

Interesting side tangent: If Evan McMullin had managed to win Utah, it was theoretically possible for him to be president, but not for his VP pick Mindy Finn to become VP. If somehow McMullin became president then Mike Pence would likely become his VP.

To address Eques' comment -

Even if all the electors who can do a mass protest vote and vote Clinton, it would still not be legally possible for Clinton to become VP. According to FairVote, there are 29 states that have legal control over who their electors vote for. I ran the numbers and they have a grand total of 302 electors, over the 270 needed.

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    @zibadawatimmy You are sorta in in that in theory a elector from a non-binding state can vote for Clinton for VP, but I'm 99% sure there are enough binding states that it would bump Clinton out of the top 2 (which is required by the 12th amendment). Would have to do the math on that though. Nov 10, 2016 at 23:44
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    What are the bindings on electors, anyway? I recall hearing that mostly it's just a "we let the party pick their set of electors, then the voted for party gets its electors sent to vote, and then if they're faithless we fine them 1000 dollars." And I would expect that fine to be manageable at the wealth level of a typical Elector; especially if they're already set on defying the vote because they think there's a more fit candidate that the popular vote overlooked/denied. Nov 10, 2016 at 23:51
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    the law you cite doesn't actually prevent a Presidential candidate from being voted as VP. Only faithless elector laws actually prevent that. In fact, the reverse has happened recently where an elector voted the VP candidate as President (IIRC)
    – eques
    Nov 10, 2016 at 23:54
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    @zibadawatimmy Yes, laws are just papers with words on them and if people don't follow it you don't always have tons of options. I'm just running under the assumption that no laws are being broken here, because otherwise all the answers are meaningless. Nov 10, 2016 at 23:57
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    @DavidGrinberg The point is your answer is factually wrong then
    – eques
    Nov 11, 2016 at 0:03

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