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Rival candidates became president and vice-president in 1796 because of election process given in the original Constitution . At first, the presidential electors each had two votes and the runner-up was elected vice-president. This method of election was altered by the 12th amendment ratified in June 1804 in time for the 1804 election. (Of course it is not unusual for rival candidates from the same party to end up as running mates for president and vice-president.)

There is another way that a President and Vice President of rival parties could be elected which, although it hasn't happened yet, is still quite possible the way our system is set up. For example, if the presidential and vice presidential elections both end up in a 269-269 tie, and the House, which would then be responsible for electing the president, and the Senate, which would have the responsibility of electing the vice president, are controlled by rival parties, odds are high that the majority party in each case would prevail. -HW

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In the early years of the U.S., whoever won the election became president, and the runner-up was vice-president. The system was later modified so a candidate could choose his own running mate.

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Q: Why did rival candidates become president and vice-president?
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