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What Would Happen if There Was a 269-to-269 Electoral College Tie?
Right now, the United States is in an election season. It’s hard, if not impossible to escape the seemingly endless amount of political ads, posts, and yard signs telling you who to vote for. This season won’t last much longer, however, because election day is less than a month away on November 3rd. But what if we don’t get our answer that night? What if there’s an Electoral College tie?
In America, the President of the United States is not chosen by the voters but rather chosen by the Electoral College. The Electoral College votes on behalf of their state. There are 538 Electoral College votes, and they are distributed across the states, giving higher population states more votes, and the lower population states fewer votes. The entirety of a state’s Electoral College votes goes to the candidate who won the majority of the votes in that state. To win the Presidency of the United States, it takes 270 Electoral College votes to win. With many simulations being run about how states could swing in this election, people have noticed that the possibility of a 269-to-269 Electoral College tie is real.
You can run an election day simulation here.
So What Would Happen?
If there is a tie on election night, there is still a possibility that the vote could change. An Electoral College member could flip the other way and vote for the other candidate. It is called a “faithless elector”, and although it is illegal in some states, it is only frowned upon in others. If this were to happen, it would be on December 14th, when the Electoral College meets to cast their votes.
Congress meets on January 6th to count the Electoral Votes. If there is still a tie, or neither candidate gets to 269 (because a third-party candidate takes some votes), then the House of Representatives and the Senate will elect the President and Vice President. The House chooses the President, and the Senate chooses the Vice President. This vote takes place after the new members of Congress are sworn in from this upcoming election so majorities could switch.
In the House of Representatives, each state gets one vote each to pick the next President of the United States. There are 50 votes, so 26 are needed to win. The 100 Senators get to vote for the Vice President and need a 51 vote majority to win.
If the House of Representatives vote is still tied at 25-to-25 by January 20th, when the President is supposed to be sworn in, then the Vice President assumes the role of President until the House of Representatives picks a President.
It will more than likely never go that far, but the constitution’s written to make sure that we know what to do just in case it does happen.
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Reinhard von Hennigs