Thomas Jefferson Papers

Section of a Bill for Settling Disputed Presidential Elections, [1800] [document added in digital edition]

Section of a Bill for Settling Disputed Presidential Elections


Title—a bill supplementary to the act &c

strike out the first 11. sections.

leave Sect. 12. 13. 14. properly amended


And be it &c that whensoever the two houses of Congress shall be assembled for the purpose of having the certificates of the electors of the several states opened & counted, the names of the several states shall be written on different & similar1 tickets of paper & put into a ballot box,2 out of which one shall be drawn at a time, and so soon as any one is drawn, the packet containing the certificates of that state shall be opened by the Presidt. of the Senate, and shall be read, and then shall be read also the petitions, depositions & other papers & documents concerning the same,3 and the Pr. of the Sen. shall then4 propose to question, one by one, in the order in which they stand, the votes stated in the said certificate, and on each individual vote as it is proposed every member of the houses then present shall, without debate, declare by Yea or Nay whether the sd vote shall be counted, and the majority of Yays enounced shall be finally conclusive as to that vote5 but before the question on any vote, any member may of right call for a second reading of any papers relating to it. but the President of the Senate, before proposing6 an individual vote, may to save time if no objection be offered, propose to question at once7 the whole pannel of the votes of that state, on which the votes shall be taken as before prescribed on an individual vote. And the votes of one state being thus counted, another ticket shall be drawn from the balot box, and the certificate & votes of the electors of the state drawn shall be proceeded on as before directed, & so on one after another till the whole of the votes shall be counted: and this shall be the process of counting prescribed by the constitution8 and if the counting of the whole9 cannot be compleated in one day, the said two houses may as a joint and grand commee of the whole Congress, but without debate10 adjourn from day to day until it be compleated

then proceed to specify what are the particular facts on which the certificates from the states shall be conclusive evidence, whence will result that all others will be in the cognisance of the college of Counters.

Dft (CSmH); undated; entirely in TJ’s hand.

bill supplementary to the act: except for substituting “the members of the Senate and House of Representatives” for the more general reference to the two houses of Congress, the opening portion of this draft section of an act matches the first half of the section that Wilson Cary Nicholas introduced in the Senate on 25 Mch. 1800 as an amendment to replace most of James Ross’s bill for resolving disputed presidential elections. After the clause relating to documents, the texts of TJ’s draft and Nicholas’s amendment diverge (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:57-8; Vol. 31:381-2, 455-6). For TJ’s involvement in the composition of Nicholas’s amendment and the incorporation of language he drafted in the introductory portion of the amendment, see Bill for Settling Disputed Presidential Elections, [1800], Vol. 32:377-9.

1Preceding word and ampersand inserted.

2TJ here canceled “and as.”

3TJ here canceled “and thereupon the members of the two houses present shall without debate.”

4TJ here canceled “name the.”

5Remainder of sentence interlined.

6TJ here canceled “a single vote.”

7Preceding two words interlined.

8Remainder of sentence interlined.

9Preceding three words interlined.

10Preceding three words interlined.

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