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Election Day: What If There’s an Electoral College Tie?

Joint Session of Congress Tallies Electoral Votes (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Looking back to the 2000 election you may remember that Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. So how does the Electoral College work and what’s the process if there’s a tie?

How Are Electoral College Votes Determined.

Each state gets two votes for each of their two senators and an additional vote for each of their Congressional Representatives. So, in the case of Montana, we would have three Electoral Votes. Two Electoral votes for Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and one Electoral vote for Congressman Denny Rehberg. In the 1960 election Montana had four electoral votes based on our population at that time. The Electoral Votes are awarded to the candidate with the largest total vote count in each states national election.

What Happens If There Is a Tie?

After all the popular votes are counted and Electoral College members in each state have voted, those votes are then sent to the newly elected 2012 House of Representatives. The House and Senate members will be sworn in on January 3rd and will count the votes on January 6th. The candidate with 270 or more Electoral votes is declared the next President of the United States and he or she would be sworn in on January 20th.

Tiebreakers

If there is a tie in the Electoral College voting then the House of Representatives will select the President. In this process each state will only get one vote. So all the representatives of the state must agree on whom to give their votes to of the three top electoral vote getters.

It gets worse. Within the House of Representatives voting it could be possible to vote for, “None of the above.” It could be possible for these “faithless electors” to elect Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, or Sara Palin. It’s within the realm of possibility for someone to be elected president that was not even on the November ballot. So stay tuned, there’s an excellent chance I might be your next president if the House does the right thing. Ok, maybe not.

Ties, Ties and More Ties?

Moving right along. Suppose a state has an equal number of republicans and democrats and the vote for that state ends in a tie. No matter what, one candidate must get 26 total votes in the house to win the presidency. No 26 votes; no President. In the case of the House vote, Governor Romney would more than likely be elected to the Presidency.

What about the Vice President?

In the event of a tie, that vote goes to the Senate. Each Senator gets one vote and must choose between the top two Electoral vote getters. Fifty-one votes would be needed to win the VP slot. More than likely Biden might win this due to the projected makeup of the senate.

If the House can’t decide on a winner by January 20th then the VP selection from the Senate becomes President until the house can get their act together.

If the Senate can’t pick a VP and the House can’t pick a President then the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, would be the temporary President until sanity is restored in the two cambers.

Some Final Thoughts

Are you as confused as I am? Although a very close election is predicted I seriously doubt there will be a tie. But if that should occur I can’t begin to imagine how entertaining that process would be. Especially with all the other tax issues they will be facing. Lions and tigers and bears OH MY!!

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