What happens if there’s a 269-269 Tie in the Electoral College? Contingent Elections

Ever wonder what happens if there’s a tie in Electoral College? The tie-breaker goes to the House and they vote on it, right? Not so fast …

It takes 270 votes to win the Electoral College. A 269-269 tie could legitimately happen if Trump and Biden split Wisconsin and Minnesota. Check out the map below created on RealClearPolitics.com, a great website for tracking Presidential and Congressional elections:

So, what happens in the event of a tie?

The tie-breaker for President goes to the House. If the election goes to the House, Democrats win, right? They have the majority and aren’t likely to lose it, right? Not so fast!

This process is determined by Article Two, Section 1, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, which was modified by the 12th Amendment and which deals with so-called contingent elections.

Here’s the process:

Each STATE gets ONE vote if the election goes to the House of Representatives. Each member of the House votes, but only indirectly. Each state delegation in the House casts one vote en bloc.

Does Trump win an Electoral College Tie?

Check my math, but it looks like there is a significant majority of states with majority Republican House delegations. Just looking at “red states vs. blue states”, there are 28 states for Trump and 22 states for Biden, including the District of Columbia. This does not account for a split Maine. This also does not account for so-called “faithless” electors, who do not vote as their state directs.

A tie like this and a subsequent House vote have occurred three times in American history:

  • 1800, Thomas Jefferson
  • 1824, Andrew Jackson losing to John Quincy Adams
  • 1836, Virginia electors refused to vote for Martin Van Buren’s VP Richard Johnson, forcing a contingent election in the Senate for V

What do you think is going to happen? Comment below with your prognostications.

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