House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly putting a focus on changing the current makeup of the House of Representatives in November’s elections, given the possibility, however slight, the body would have to decide who the next president is.
The political site 270toWin reported there are 64 scenarios in which the Electoral College could end up a 269 to 269 tie.
The 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides that if the Electoral College vote for president is evenly split, the House will choose the winner.
However, rather than each member of the body voting individually, as they would for legislation, each state gets just one vote.
— Bruce Mehlman (@bpmehlman) September 23, 2020
That vote is determined by the state’s congressional delegation in the House, choosing internally.
So for example, Arizona currently has nine members, five Democrats and four Republicans.
Presumably, the winner would be Joe Biden when an internal tally is taken, so the Grand Canyon State would cast its one vote for the Democratic candidate.
States that end up with a tie vote among their delegations will not be able to cast a vote.
Politico reported that Republicans currently control 26 congressional delegations to the Democrats 22, with Pennsylvania tied, and Michigan having a plurality 7-6 for Democrats, with a 14th seat held by independent Justin Amash.
President Donald Trump made mention of this at a rally near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday night.
“And I don’t want to end up in the Supreme Court and I don’t want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress — does everyone understand that?” Trump said.
Trump: …even though we have an advantage if we go back to congress… I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state. pic.twitter.com/x2hcfBVmX1
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 27, 2020
“I think it’s 26 to 22 or something because it’s counted one vote per state, so we actually have an advantage,” he said, according to Politico. “Oh, they’re going to be thrilled to hear that.”
Recognizing what Trump said is true, Pelosi sent a letter to House Democrats on Sunday.
“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” Pelosi wrote. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”
PELOSI is asking for members to try to win House state delegations. Unusual times. pic.twitter.com/qIzyX2fBA7
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 27, 2020
“Because we cannot leave anything to chance, House Majority PAC is doing everything it can to win more delegations for Democrats,” Pelosi added. “It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen.”
The House that would vote to break an Electoral College tie would be part of the new, 117th Congress sworn in on Jan. 3.
Politico identified multiple states in which either Democrats or Republicans hold just a slight lead among congressional delegations.
“Democrats hold a one- or two-vote seat edge in seven states that are expected to feature at least one sharply contested House race: Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire. Republicans hold a similarly tenuous edge in Florida,” according to the news outlet.
“The Alaska and Montana at-large seats are held by Republicans, meaning a Democrat would change the delegation’s vote in a presidential tally.”
The House has only decided one race under the provisions of the 12 Amendment. It was in 1825, when John Quincy Adams prevailed over Andrew Jackson.
Congress also stepped in and reached an Electoral College compromise in the election of 1876.
If voters needed more motivation to vote this fall, the potential 269-to-269 split should provide it.
Your vote may help decide the congressional race that decides the presidency.
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