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A January 11, 2021 Congressional resolution proposes to amend the U.S. Constitution to abolish the electoral college. The resolution contains a clause explicitly allowing voting for candidates who belong to the same state as the voter:

No elector shall be prohibited from casting a vote for a candidate for President or Vice President because either candidate, or both, are inhabitants of the same State as the elector.

This seems an odd thing to call out, which makes me feel that there must be historical precedent for the opposite — that prohibitions exist preventing voting for candidates of the same state.

What is the significance of this clause? Are there or have there been such prohibitions?

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    This does seem kinda low research. – Acccumulation Jan 13 at 19:20
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    I didn't know the answer to this. – DJClayworth Jan 13 at 19:46
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Article II of the US Constitution currently prohibits an elector from voting for two people from his home state.

The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.

Some background from History.com:

Under the original system, electors did not distinguish between candidates for the nation’s top two offices; the candidate with the most votes became president, while the runner-up became vice president. The 12th Amendment, adopted in 1804 after two chaotic elections, mandated that electors cast separate ballots for president and vice president. However, the rule preventing an elector from voting for two people from his home state remained in effect under the new system.

And from PolitiFact:

The idea behind the restriction was to dilute the power of the big states and to encourage electors to look beyond their political allies.

However, this does not mean that the President and the Vice President cannot be from the same state. This rule would only matter if the election was exceptionally close and came down to one state (the 2000 election was almost affected by this rule as Texas was the home state of both Bush and Cheney; Cheney later registered to vote in Wyoming instead, side-stepping this issue).

Let's use the Bush/Rubio hypothetical. Bush could choose Rubio to be his running mate. And if the two won, Florida's 29 electors could vote to make Bush president, but not to make Rubio vice president (or vice versa). If Bush and Rubio started with 299 electoral votes or more, that wouldn't matter and Rubio would still be vice president. But if the election were close, things would get complicated.


Also, it's worth noting that "electors" in this constitutional amendment refers to the voters (of all 50 states and D.C.), not members of the electoral college (which would have been abolished if this is passed). From the joint resolution linked in the question:

Each elector shall cast a single vote for two persons who have consented to the joining of their names as candidates for President and Vice President.

[ ... ]

The pair of candidates having the greatest number of votes for President and Vice President shall be elected.

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    In practice, though, this rule means that no one ever picks a running mate from their state, because no one wants to throw away votes they might otherwise win. And as long as that practice is maintained, the rule has zero effect on the voting itself. – Arcanist Lupus Jan 13 at 6:31
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    @ArcanistLupus yes, it is fairly easy to work around. The resolution wants to change it so there is nothing to work around – Caleth Jan 13 at 14:44
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    One of the biggest false assumptions made by the founding fathers was that the majority of voters would only know or care about local politics, and have very little interest in national elections. The reality has been quite the reverse - today everybody knows and often cares passionately about who sits in the White House (and VP) but most couldn't name any of their representatives (either in state or US congresses). Thus the whole "root for the home team" effect has been far less of a relevant factor in national level elections than they anticipated. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 13 at 15:31
  • @DarrelHoffman Note that only 4 presidents have won despite losing their state of residence. Suggesting that if you can't even get the "home team" to root for you, you're not usually popular enough to get the rest of the country. – Barmar Jan 13 at 16:45
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    @Jontia "elector" means "one who chooses," which is equivalent to "one who votes." In other words, it is synonym for "voter." Under the current system, 538 people vote to choose the president and vice president. See also the use of "elector" in article 1: "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature." – phoog Jan 14 at 9:29

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