Politicos have warned that a “nightmare scenario” could play out in the Electoral College that would further complicate the 2020 presidential election, which has already been complicated by COVID-19.
If there is an electoral tie at 269 electoral votes for both Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump — which is possible since Nebraska and Maine do not follow the winner-take-all methodology and instead allocate electoral votes proportionally — the election gets tossed to the House of Representatives, where each delegation gets a single vote.
Even that vote, however, could tie at 25-25.
“Nightmare scenario: this map (which is not at all impossible), the election goes to the House of Representatives,” explained The Federalist’s Inez Stepman, “and GOP wins by virtue of each delegation getting a single vote AS A STATE rather than as a total ‘popular’ vote of all House members.”
Nightmare scenario: this map (which is not at all impossible), the election goes to the House of Representatives, and GOP wins by virtue of each delegation getting a single vote AS A STATE rather than as a total "popular" vote of all House members. h/t @JasonBedrick for the map. pic.twitter.com/P4esP9L3BG
— Inez Stepman ⚪️🔴⚪️ (@InezFeltscher) October 26, 2020
Here’s more on the possibility of an electoral tie via Alabama.gov:
If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. The Senate elects the Vice President from the two vice presidential candidates with the most electoral votes. Each senator casts one vote. The House of Representatives has chosen the president twice, during the elections of 1800 and 1824. The Senate has chosen the vice president only once, during the election of 1836.
As Stepman noted, it’s likely Trump would win re-election in such a scenario, since the GOP has the edge in total states.
However, the state delegations vote after they are sworn in; so if the GOP loses the congressional delegations of Florida and Pennsylvania, it’s possible there is a tie even in the House.
“Guys, just saying: if Biden wins Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan, but Trump wins Pennsylvania, NE2 and ME2, and all the other states voted the way they did in 2016…it’s a 269-269 Electoral College tie,” highlighted The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro.
“Then the election is thrown to the House, where each state gets one vote based on delegation,” he explained. “Right now, Republicans hold the majority.”
“But,” Shapiro noted, “the electoral college vote happens AFTER the swearing in. If PA and FL flip blue by Congressional delegation, we have a 25-25 tie.”
Then the election is thrown to the House, where each state gets one vote based on delegation. Right now, Republicans hold the majority. But the electoral college vote happens AFTER the swearing in. If PA and FL flip blue by Congressional delegation, we have a 25-25 tie.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) October 28, 2020
So if the electoral vote is tied, and the House vote is tied, what happens then?
Shapiro hits at it, here: “Then everybody just keeps voting. Forever. This is how you get President Bobcat. The Senate chooses the VP, and in the absence of a president, that VP would temporarily serve as president. But what if the Senate is split 50-50?”
Okay, we won’t have President Bobcat, but the House will just keep voting until they break the tie. And if we don’t have a president by Jan. 20, the vice president, which the Senate votes on, will serve as acting president.
“[I]f a majority is not reached in the House vote (e.g., 25-25), that chamber needs to keep at it until the tie is broken,” 270 to Win explains. “If the deadlock is still in place when the new term starts (noon, ET on Jan. 20), the vice president becomes acting president until such time as the House elects a president.”
Here’s that outlined in Section 3 of the 20th Amendment:
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
If Congress is unable to choose a president or vice president by Jan. 20, the day the president’s term expires, the Presidential Succession Act kicks in, NBC News reports. The speaker of the House, currently Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), would be first in line to serve as acting president. Pelosi or otherwise, the speaker would have to resign from their position to serve in the interim.