Presidential Succession Act of 1792
A wide-ranging act of Congress passed on 2/21/1792, the day before Washington’s birthday. One of the key provisions was the establishment of presidential succession: President, Vice President, President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, and then Speaker of the U.S. House. If the Speaker became the acting president, he would call a new presidential election. A second provision of the act regulated the presidential election and remained in force for 50 years. Instead of specifying the date for the selection of the Electors, the act provided a range of dates. After voting, the Electors would sign three copies of the certificate of vote: one to be forwarded to Philadelphia by a messenger, one to be mailed to Philadelphia, and one to be handed to a district judge for safekeeping.
During the debate in Congress, members of the U.S. House discussed the issue of directing the states on filling vacancies when the Electors met. Since the Constitution already stated that states were at liberty to provide for the selection of Electors as they saw fit, the House decided that no additional enabling legislation was necessary. Many states therefore passed such laws for the filling of vacancies by the Electors who attended.
Modes of Selecting the Electors
Legislative selection: CT, DE, GA, NJ, NY, NC, RI, SC, and VT
General Ticket (At Large): MD, NH, PA
Presidential Elector District: KY, MA, VA