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According to Article 2, clause 3 of the US Constitution (since replaced by the 12th Amendment):

In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.

So the first place winner became the President and the second place winner became the Vice President. Are there any similar elections these days? Note that I'm not asking about votes where multiple people on the ballot become elected members with equal rights, but rather where the positions are distinct.

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  • 1
    Could downvoters please explain why? This seems like a good question to me.
    – Ryan_L
    Dec 31 '20 at 5:46
  • Is the question specific to the US? What about non-gov elections like union representatives?
    – DonFusili
    Dec 31 '20 at 9:08
  • 1
    I suppose most organisations noticed that making the 2nd place winner automatically succeed the winner in case of accidents... might not be the right incentive.
    – Hulk
    Dec 31 '20 at 14:22
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    @JamesK No need for a virtual election: there can be (at least in theory), a literal one (in the form of votes of confidence): it just so happens that the electorate is quite small, consisting of just the Members of Parliament. Dec 31 '20 at 20:19
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    @ohwilleke do you have a link to that analysis? Dec 31 '20 at 22:05
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Yes, in Nicaragua, the two candidates who are runners-up in the presidential election fill a seat in the legislature, the National Assembly. The second-place presidential candidate fills the seat as a full member, while the second-place candidate for Vice-President is the 'alternate', who fills the seat if a vacancy arises before the next election.

Article 133
The Former President of the Republic and Vice President elected by the people’s direct vote in the immediate previous term shall also be part of the National Assembly as regular members and alternates respectively. The candidates for President and Vice President of the Republic who finish in second place in the election shall be part of the National Assembly as members and alternates.
Source: The Constitute Project

In addition, in Mozambique, the runner-up in the presidential election is granted a seat on the Council of State, an advisory body presided over by the President. (Article 164, Section 2i; Mozambican Constitution)

6

Sort of in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has two heads of government: the First Minister, and the deputy First Minister.

After an election, the First Minister is nominated by the party with the largest delegation in the Assembly, and the deputy First Minister by the party with the largest delegation from a community other than that of the First Minister. In all cases to date, this has meant that the largest party has provided the First Minister, and the second largest has provided the deputy First Minister.

However:

  1. This is not necessarily the case. For example, if the two largest parties were from the same community, the second largest still wouldn't be able to nominate a deputy First Minister. These possibilities are yet to actually occur, though.
  2. Despite the naming, the First Minister and deputy First Minister actually have identical powers, so it's rather irrelevant.
  3. This isn't actually a direct election: the Assembly is elected, but the offices of First Minister and deputy First Minister aren't (even by the Assembly): they're just nominated by the largest parties (with all of the relevant asterisks), without a vote.
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    Something analogous happens in most U.S. federal and state legislative leadership elections, where party with a majority of the vote to lead a state or federal legislative body is the Speaker or President or Majority leader, and the highest vote getting among those who do not support the winner is often made the "minority leader" with significant authority in setting the legislative agenda, making committee appointments, and allocating resources like staff and office space for members of the minority.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 31 '20 at 20:54

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