Can someone run for the office of Vice President independently of a presidential candidate?

This question was raised in another thread.
If I start an independent party, can I run as VP without nominating a Prez to run with? If so, do I need to have more votes the Presidential candidates to get the job?

The electors (that is, the 538 members of the Electoral College) each vote for one person as President, and one person as Vice President. Your options for pulling this off would be to either convince a large enough number of electors to vote for you instead of for the Vice Presidential candidate they were “supposed” to vote for, or to get your own electors picked (who would still also have to vote for someone for President). How you get your own electors will vary from state to state, but I suspect that most of the states’ laws are set up expecting that there will already be a slate of candidates both for President and Vice-President at the time the electors are chosen.

In other words, the way to run for Vice-President is to pick some other guy to run as President, and call you his running mate.

As a practical matter, no. The voters in each state are actually electing slates of electors, not candidates. You would have to nominate a slate of electors pledged to you as VP. However, electors are required to vote for both a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate. So any electors pledged to you as VP would also have to vote for someone else as president.

So the answer is legally yes, but practically no?

The US constitution itself does not appear to require that electors be committed to a specific person or party.

However, states might have such requirements. Without checking individual states, I am not sure if this would be illegal or not.

Whether legal or not, it would be effectively impossible to carry this out in practice.

Even the “legally” part is actually “It depends.” As in, “It depends on state law for the state the electors represent.”

Specifically: state laws binding electors to their party’s ticket. The phrase “faithless elector” arises out of the possibility that a duly elected elector may cast an electoral college vote for someone other than their party’s stated candidate.

So your hypothetical is a canonical example of a faithless elector, assuming the elector was elected as part of a major party ticket.

29 States and DC have laws penalizing electors for voting against their pledge (i.e., the ticket they were elected to represent). Even when the penalties are not assessed (and apparently they usually aren’t), the votes themselves are nullified and have sometimes simply been given to the candidate the electors were originally pledged to. See Faithless Electors in 2016.

ETA: As Colibri said.

[quote=“gnoitall, post:6, topic:793119”]

Specifically: state laws binding electors to their party’s ticket. The phrase “faithless elector” arises out of the possibility that a duly elected elector may cast an electoral college vote for someone other than their party’s stated candidate…

But the “faithless elector” laws have never been challenged in court, and are most likely unconstitutional, since the founders envisioned the electors being an independent body, free to elect whoever they see fit.

The real problem is how state ballots are constructed.
Let’s start with the legality of faithless electors. So far sanctions against faithless electors have never been legally tested and IIRC in 2016 a couple of faithless electors were replaced and again there were no legal challenges. So if we assume state laws that regulate how electors vote then you would have to challenge the ballot. I believe in all 51 elections the ballot reads something like:
Electors for
Dingleberry Party
Saint Cad, President
Doofy Dingus, Vice-President

But in a state where the electors are required to vote for the top vote-getter you could pick the electors at random and it wouldn’t make a difference so I would argue that at least in those states you could have the court require the state to split the ballot so that Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates are voted on separately.

So if the electors vote for the P and the VP separately, then I would just have to get more votes than the other VP candidates, not more than the P candidates, right?

Note on the legality of faithless electors. This article indicates a few cases are working their way through the court. The SD thread on the Baca case is here.

Thanks to the domination of basic two-party “democracy”, ballots aren’t structured to allow that. This google image searchshows excerpts of lots of ballots, and you’ll note one thing in common: you vote for the entire president/vice-president ticket together (one check mark), choosing one party’s pair of candidates over the other parties’. You don’t cast one vote for President and another independent one for VP. Therefore, the P and VP candidates get exactly the same number of popular votes, and therefore (through the magic of elector pledging) exactly the same electoral votes.

The game is rigged, man.

The issue of faithless electors and States’ powers to override or punish them is certainly controversial.

Nonetheless, the status quo is that elector pledge enforcement is the functioning law of the land in 29 states and DC, so until Baca is resolved electoral coup is not going to be OP’s loophole.

An independent VP may not be likely to win, but could one take enough votes away to force a President-Elect of one party to get a VP-Elect from another party?

No, because to make a difference, the independent VP would have to attract enough electoral votes to win outright. If the independent candidate somehow siphoned off enough electoral votes to deny either other candidate a majority, the election of the VP would be thrown to the Senate, which would choose among the top TWO finishers.

Realistically, I wouldn’t see either Senate Democrats or Republicans voting for an independent candidate. There would be enough senators from the losing party cross over to the (presidential) winning party to give them the election, but there would never be enough Senators to bolt from the leading party to elect an independent VP.

The entire premise is flawed: there is no such thing as an independent VP on the ballot in any state of the union.

Once you have a president-elect, you already also have a vice-president-elect. Period.

How would someone run as an independent V-P candidate only? The states (all of them so far as I know) list candidates as pairs for voting purposes. I’m not certain you could even manage to get put on the ballot as a person just running for the V-P. You’d have to be nominating a slate of electors who are promised to vote for you as V-P, but not pledged to vote for anyone specific as President.

It sort of happened in the 1896 election.

William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic Party nominee. His running mate was Arthur Sewall.

Or rather, one of his running mates was Arthur Sewall. Because the Progressive Party had their own convention and they also nominated Bryan as their Presidential candidate. But they nominated Thomas Watson as their Vice Presidential candidate.

Then just to confuse things further, the Silver Republican Party held their convention and also nominated Bryan and Sewall.

So Bryan was running as the Democratic candidate, the Progressive candidate, and the Silver Republican candidate. Voters could vote for Democratic Electors, Progressive Electors, or Silver Electors and all of them were pledged to vote for Bryan. But the Democratic Electors and Silver Electors were pledged to vote for Sewall and the Progressive Electors were pledged to vote for Watson. However some Democratic Electors ended up being faithless and cast their votes for Watson rather than Sewall. Which was a moot point as the Republicans McKinley and Hobart won the election.

There was also the 1824 election, where Calhoun initially ran for president. His campaign didn’t catch fire, so he let it be known that he would run for V-P. He got electoral votes from supporters of both Adams and Jackson, and so won a majority of the Electoral College votes for Vice-President.

Neither Adams nor Jackson won a majority of the EC votes, so the presidential election went to the House of Representatives.

Calhoun served for four years as V-P under Adams, then switched and became Jackson’s running mate in the 1828 election, then resigned in a dispute with Jackson over states’ rights and was sent to the Senate by the South Carolina legislature.

Jackson is said to have commented that one of his few regrets from his presidency was that he’d not found a way to have Calhoun hanged.

There might not even be 270 electoral votes available that way. Ohio’s “presidential guide” (PDF) says that Ohio requires “the names and signatures of both the candidate for President and the candidate for Vice President” for either an independent candidates’ petition or a write-in declaration. I can’t imagine it’s the only state to have that kind of rule.

That’s the ballots that the people get. But they’re not voting for the president and Vice-president; they’re voting for a slate of candidates for the electoral college.

The electors are required to cast separate ballots, one for the President and one for the Vice-president. Those numbers don’t have to line up.

For example, in addition to the 1824 election, where Calhoun won a majority in the EC even though none of the presidential candidates did, there was also the 1836 election. A candidate needed 148 EC votes to win. There were five candidates running for President (the Whig party was badly split and four different Whigs ran), but Van Buren, the sole Democratic candidate, got 170 votes, so he became President. But there were four candidates running for Vice-President, and the EC didn’t vote for them the same way they voted for the presidential candidate.

Van Buren’s running mate, Richard Johnson, only got 147 votes; one short of a majority, and far short of what Van Buren had got. Clearly, some of Van Buren’s voters didn’t vote for Johnson. The runner-up, Francis Granger, got 77 EC votes; John Tyler got 47; and William Smith got 23.

That meant that the election for Vice-President went to the Senate, under the terms of the 12th Amendment. Johnson won a clear majority in the Senate, 33 to 16.

So no, the vote for the President doesn’t automatically determine the vote for the Vice-President.

Now, state law governing ballot access has no doubt tightened up considerably since 1824 and 1836, so it is likely more difficult to have independent V-P candidates, but the actual constitutional provision does require a separate vote for each office, and there can be different results in those separate votes.