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Salena Zito: What Happens If There is an Electoral Tie?

Salena Zito: What Happens If There is an Electoral Tie?

By    |   Wednesday, 02 November 2016 06:47 AM

What if the election on November 8th ends in a 269-269 electoral tie?

Don't laugh, the absence of normal during this election cycle has been abundant and given the tightening of polls in the closing week of this disruptive race, it is not outside of the realm of possibility.

So, what happens if the impossible happens?

The U.S. Constitution dictates if none of the candidates received the majority of the electoral votes the House of Representatives would choose a president from among the top three candidates.

The vote is done by state delegation; so, for example, Pennsylvania's 18 House members would cast a single vote for president. Since Republicans have a 13 to 5 majority over Democrats in the Pennsylvania delegation, it is reasonable to imagine the state would vote to elect Trump.

The same would go for Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and list goes on -- this is because Republicans control the delegations of the majority of states.

In a twist of archaic irony, each state's vote carry's equal weight no matter their size or population. In short, Wyoming's one congressional representative has as much voting weight as all of California's 53 members.

If a delegation has an equal amount of House members in their delegation that state casts no vote, only a majority of 26 states is required.

Technically, we will not know the final electoral vote until December 19th when the electors gather in their states to cast those votes – and that is where something even more bizarre could happen in what has already proven to be one of the most bizarre elections in American history: the whim of the "faithless elector."

A "faithless elector" is someone who decides not to vote for the candidate who won the most votes in their state, doing exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

If that were to occur and one elector broke rank they could indeed hand Clinton or Trump the 270th vote. Or could they?

While each individual state has different rules to impose a requirement that an elector casts a vote for the candidate they are pledged to, some of those rules have no teeth.

In comes Congress to save the day.

On January 6, 2017, when the new joint session of Congress meets to preside over the formal counting of the electoral vote, Joe Biden, the outgoing vice-president will preside over the counting given state by state.

If a state has a faithless elector that casts a vote other than what their state has voted, an objection can be raised if either a member of the House or Senate voices one.

Still it is highly unlikely that a "faithless elector" will emerge.

The Senate also plays a role in the event of a tie, because they get to decide who the vice-president will be.

Currently, the Republicans hold the majority in the Senate. If that majority holds they will easily pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee.

But, if the Democrats win the Senate majority back then Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine would be the vice-president.

And, yes, there could be a scenario where the delegations could pick Trump and the Senate could pick Kaine for vice-president, certainly making for a very fascinating next four years.

It's been a couple of hundred years since Congress was last faced with taking over an election that ended in an electoral vote. Back then it was so contentious it took them 36 ballots before declaring Thomas Jefferson the victor over Aaron Burr.
 

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What if the election on November 8th ends in a 269-269 electoral tie? Don't laugh, the absence of normal during this election cycle has been abundant and given the tightening of polls in the closing week of this disruptive race, it is not outside of the realm of...
Electoral, tie, election
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2016-47-02
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 06:47 AM
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