What Happens If the Electoral College is Tied?

In an era where political norms keep being smashed, let’s look at a scenario that’s possible, but has never happened before: a tied Electoral College.

First off, let’s all start preparing now for the possibility that we won’t know who won on Election Night. With the record number of absentee ballots we are expecting, it’ll take days, if not a week or two to know for sure who won the presidential election.

But, once results are tabulated, we could see a tied result like this:

If the Electoral College is tied 269-269, there is no winner. To win, one candidate must get to 270. So, if it’s tied, the election goes to the House of Representatives to decide.

But before you exclaim with joy that the Democrats have the majority in the House right now, and therefore Biden would win, I need you to sit down.

First, it’s the House members elected in November that get to vote, not the current members.

Second, It’s not that every Representative gets to cast one vote, but that every state delegation gets one vote. So, looking at my home state of Oregon, we have 5 Reps: 4 Democrats and 1 Republican. As one delegation, they only get one vote. Majority wins. So Oregon’s delegation would cast one vote for the Democratic nominee. Each state would do this.

So, whichever candidate gets 26 of the 50 votes wins the presidency.

And this is when this scenario gets upsetting for the Democrats. Right now, the Republicans have the majority in 26 state delegations. The Democrats have 22 states, and there are 2 tied delegations (Michigan and Pennsylvania). If the majority control of the state delegations doesn’t change in November, and there is an Electoral College tie, Trump would win again.

You can see a full list of how the House delegations break out for the current Congress HERE.

Which brings me to the lesson of the day: Let’s make sure that Biden wins the presidency in an Electoral College landslide, and that we flip more seats in the House to get more majority delegations!


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Categories: Elections, Explainers

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