What happens if there is a tie in the electoral college?
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Democratic challenger Joe Biden is up against US President Donald Trump as the 46th US election kicks off on Tuesday, November 3. The candidates have gone head-to-head in a campaign which has been heavily focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
In the US, the presidency is given to the candidate who receives the most votes from the electoral college.
Each state has a certain number of members of the electoral college based on its population.
Smaller states will have a minimum of three electors, while bigger states, such as California have many more.
The next US President will be whoever receives 270 votes or more from the electoral college, but what happens if there’s a tie breaker?
A tie between two candidates would mean each would have received 269 votes from the electoral college.
However, there could also be a tie if a third party or independent candidate wins enough votes to prevent a candidate from receiving 270 votes.
If there’s a tie, a so-called contingent election is the procedure to elect the president or vice president.
For the president to be elected, there will be a vote of the US House of Representatives.
For the vice president candidates, the US Senate will vote on who they believe should get the role.
Each house state delegation will cast one “en blog” vote to determine the president, meaning they will vote as one, rather than a vote from each representative.
For the vice president, senators cast their votes individually.
The continent election process was established in Article Two, Section 1, Clause 3 of the US Constitution and was modified by the Twelfth Amendment in 1804.
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Such elections have only occurred on three occasions in American history.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of electoral votes as the presidential and vice-presidential nominees on the ticket of the Democratic-Republic party.
In 1824, the electoral college was split between four candidates.
In 1836, which was the last time a contingent election had to take place, electors in Virginia refused to vote for Martin Van Buren’s vice-presidential nominee Richard Mentor Johnson.
They denied him a majority of the electoral vote and forced the Senate to elect him in a contingent election.
In 1933, the 20th Amendment stipulated the term of the incoming US Congress should start before that of the incoming President.
The amendment determined it should be the incoming Congress which would choose the President in any future contingent election.
Section 3 of the 20th Amendment specifies that if the House of Representatives has not chosen a president-elect in time for the inauguration, the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House selects a president.
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