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Electoral Tie a Nightmare for Democracy


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It takes 270 Electoral votes to become the next president of the United States. But if the Electoral votes come out split down the middle, 269 votes each, what would happen then?


When there is a tie in the Electoral College, the election is thrown into Congress, with the House picking the President and the Senate choosing the Vice President. In the House, each state is given one vote, an even further deviation from the principle of one person one vote. Furthermore, the whole setup provides the chance for a President and Vice President to be selected from different parties.


If by chance no Vice Presidential candidate manages to obtain a majority in the Senate, there exists no provision in the Constitution providing an explanation of the procedure to follow. There is also no provision that addresses the possibility of Senators or Representatives running for President or Vice President voting for themselves.




Under one scenario, if both houses of congress have not determined a winner by the time George W. Bush leaves office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have to resign her seat and serve as acting President. Sullivan also mentions several other dramatic possibilities including the involvement of courts and rogue electors. Furthermore, congressional representatives may be put in a position where they have to weigh party loyalty against the will of their state.


As recently as September 19, election stats guru Nate Silver projected the odds of a tie at 3.2 percent. With Obama surging in battleground polling, the number of scenarios that would produce a tie has dwindled. Silver recently looked at scenarios by which a tie could occur.


A new wrinkle to the electoral map, Nebraska's decision to award electoral votes by congressional districts could create or break a tie in any number of scenarios. Obama has a chance at winning a single electoral vote from Omaha, where Republican's voter registration edge is much smaller than in the rest of the reliably red state.

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