Vice President

Vice President in the United States

Vice President of the United States Qualifications and Candidacy

The Vice President is elected along with the President by the Electoral College — each elector casts one vote for President and another for Vice President. Before the ratification of the 12th Amendment in 1804, electors only voted for President, and the person who received the second greatest number of votes became Vice President.

Of the 46 previous Vice Presidents, nine have succeeded to the Presidency, and four have been elected to the Presidency in their own right. The duties of the Vice President, outside of those enumerated in the Constitution, are at the discretion of the current President. Each Vice President approaches the role differently — some take on a specific policy portfolio, others serve simply as a top adviser to the President.

Introduction to Vice President Qualifications

The qualifications for the vice presidency are the same as those for the presidency. The vice president must be a native-born American of at least 35 years of age who has resided in the United States for at least 14 years.

Under the Constitution’s original provision for election, the person receiving the second highest number of electoral votes in the presidential election became vice president. In the event of a second-place tie, the Senate decided who would become vice president. The 12th Amendment, approved in 1804, specified that the Electoral College cast separate ballots to choose the president and the vice president.

The 25th Amendment enabled the president to appoint a vice president if there is a vacancy in that office. The appointment is subject to approval by a majority of both houses of Congress. There was no procedure for filling the office prior to the adoption of the 25th Amendment in 1967; before that time, when a vice president resigned or died in office-or assumed the presidency-the position of vice president remained vacant until the next election. In the 19th century six vice presidents died while in office, and one, John C. Calhoun, resigned from the post in 1832.

Presidential candidates select their vice-presidential running mates, usually after consultation with political party leaders. Candidates for the vice presidency are usually selected to balance a party’s election ticket. A presidential candidate from the Northeast, for example, might choose a vice-presidential candidate from a southern state with the hope of winning more votes from the South. Thus vice-presidential candidates usually earn a place on the ticket because they have personal traits, regional ties, or some other quality that complements the person running for president. Because of the need to appeal to voters across the country, vice-presidential candidates tend to be leaders of national stature, such as governors and experienced members of Congress. Once they have finished their terms, vice presidents often run for election to the presidency itself.” (1)


The primary responsibility of the Vice President of the United States is to be ready at a moment’s notice to assume the Presidency if the President is unable to perform his duties. This can be because of the President’s death, resignation, or temporary incapacitation, or if the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet judge that the President is no longer able to discharge the duties of the presidency.

The Vice President also serves as the President of the United States Senate, where he or she casts the deciding vote in the case of a tie. Except in the case of tiebreaking votes, the Vice President rarely actually presides over the Senate. Instead, the Senate selects one of their own members, usually junior members of the majority party, to preside over the Senate each day.


The Vice President has an office in the West Wing of the White House, as well as in the nearby Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Like the President, he also maintains an official residence, at the United States Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, D.C. This peaceful mansion, has been the official home of the Vice President since 1974 — previously, Vice Presidents had lived in their own private residences. The Vice President also has his own limousine, operated by the United States Secret Service, and flies on the same aircraft the President uses — but when the Vice President is aboard, the craft are referred to as Air Force Two and Marine Two.

Concept of Vice President

In the U.S., in the context of Presidency and Executive Power, Vice President has the following meaning: The elected official next in line to succeed the President should the President die, be disabled, or resign the office. The constitutional responsibilities for the Vice President are to serve as the president of the Senate, with a vote only in the case of a tie. Modern presidents often assign policy and political duties to the vice president as well. (Source of this definition of Vice President : University of Texas)

Vice President


See Also

  • Presidency
  • Executive Power


Notes and References

Guide to Vice President Qualifications

Vice President: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Vice President. This part provides references, in relation to Vice President, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Vice President by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Vice President and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Vice President or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Vice President and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Vice President. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Vice President should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Vice President when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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