Electoral College and the National Archives

Uploaded by usnationalarchives on 09.01.2013

Pursuant to the Constitution and laws of the United States, the Senate and the House of
Representatives are meeting in joint session to verify the certificates and count the votes
of the electors of the several states for president and vice president of the United
States. In 1950 the decision was made to give the Electoral College responsibility to the
National Archives and Records Administration, to be administered by the Office of the Federal
Register. So this is a meeting of the presidential electors as they officially cast Maryland’s
electoral votes for president and vice president. When Americans vote at the general election
we’re actually voting for a slate of electors, we’re not voting for the candidates. Generally
they’re people who are very active in their political parties within their states. But
usually on the state’s ballot those slates of electors are represented by the candidates.
Each state gets one elector per member of Congress. So for example, Maryland has two
senators and eight members of the House, so it gets ten total electoral votes. It’s
a winner-take-all system. I, Beth Swope, vote for Barack Obama for president. Barack Obama
for president. In each state all the electors vote for the candidate who won the popular
vote in that state. After the electors meet and they vote, they’ll send a package to
us. That package will contain a Certificate of Ascertainment and a state Certificate of
Vote. The Certificate of Ascertainment just lists the number of votes each electoral slate
got. And tells you who won. The Certificate of Vote tells us how each elector voted. We
review them to make sure that they a have a seal, that they’re signed. The Constitution
says that people who are in Congress can’t be electors. Sometimes we notice that they’ve
listed somebody who’s a member of the House or a member of the Senate and then we contact
the state and tell them that that person cannot be an elector. Today is the day before Congress
counts the votes. A couple of the states actually had the wrong date for the inauguration. And
so we asked them for amended Certificates of Vote. We just received our amended Certificate
of Vote. What we’ll do is just review it quick and then as soon as we’re done here
I will take it up to Congress. The next step is to scan the document and then we send it
forward to our web programmer who will then post it on our website so the public can actually
view the document. There are no federal requirements on what certificates look like. This is this
year’s Ohio certificate. It’s still the biggest it’s just a little smaller than
2008. The Certificate of Electoral Vote in the state of Ohio seems to be regular in form
and authentic. House will be in order. The certificates are brought down the aisle in
ceremonial boxes and presented to the tellers who are going to open the boxes and count
the vote. For someone to be elected president of the United States they need to receive
270 electoral votes, which is half of the total plus one. After the 2000 election Vice
President Al Gore, in his capacity as president of the Senate, had to make the announcement
to a joint session of Congress that he had lost the Electoral College. George W. Bush
of the state of Texas has received for president of the United States 271 votes. Al Gore of
the state of Tennessee has received 266 votes. The Office of the Federal Register maintains
the Certificates of Ascertainment and the Certificates of Vote for one year after the
election. We make them available to the public for review and inspection. After one year’s
time they are transferred to the National Archives as permanent records.