What Happens if There Is a Tie in the Presidential Election?

Updated: Jul 3

Looking down the line to the upcoming U.S. election, there’s a very real possibility of a draw.

As many of you will well be aware, the U.S. Election works through a series of Electoral College votes. Each state votes, the winner takes the Electoral College votes for that state (except for Maine & Nebraska, who share it over districts).

The threshold for victory is 270 EC votes – once a Presidential candidate passes that mark, they’re the President-elect. Though, there is the slight chance that both candidates draw.

Yes, that’s right. The candidates can finish even on Electoral College votes. In fact, I have mocked up an eerily feasible map that would put both Donald Trump & Joe Biden on 269 votes.

Were that to happen, what would be the protocol? Does the Constitution have anything in place to stop complete anarchy or civil war from breaking out?

Again, yes, it does. The system in place is that the House of Representatives will vote on the President, while the Senate votes on the Vice President. Essentially deferring the vote back to the American people, who, of course, have just voted for their Congressmen & women and, in some states, their Senators too.

Though, having two separate houses vote on two separate positions does give rise to the possibility of one house voting in a Democrat and the other voting in a Republican; giving you a President & Vice President from two opposing parties.

It seems that the logical thing to do would be to defer to the popular vote. Indeed, the President should be decided by popular vote regardless, because Democrats (supporters of democracy, not followers of the Democratic Party) love the old saying: “One person, one vote”.

Regardless, throughout history, there have been many close calls in American elections. The closest being in 1876, when Rutherford Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden by only one singular Electoral College vote. Though, in true Republican fashion, he did take the Presidency without actually winning the popular vote, which he lost by 3%.

It was a similar story with George W. Bush in 2000, when he defeated Al Gore by 5 Electoral College votes. Again, he lost the popular vote by 5%.

Either way, the point I’m trying to relay is that on occasion, the Electoral College gets remarkably close to the wire. In the age of Trump vs. Biden, the battle between the upper & lower against the middle class, one could imagine an incredibly tightly contested race.

I realise that I write that just weeks after saying that there would be no contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden – trust me, I do.

But Coronavirus has entered the playing field now & there is absolutely no way that something this impactful and this emotive won’t be harnessed by Joe Biden and his team. How Trump handles the incoming missiles from Biden really will decide the election.

Trump’s always been good at taking the emotive issues and twisting them to his advantage. Whereas, with Coronavirus, the buck stops with him. He can try to blame it on China, he can refuse to take responsibility, but ultimately, the voters aren’t stupid; they know who’s in the White House.

Coronavirus has brought a whole new complexion to the 2020 Election & it’s thrown a new level of doubt onto Trump’s ability to win. Maybe Joe Biden will just sneak in through the back door.

The Politician will be continuing its news & opinion stories as normal throughout this crisis.

We will endeavour to cover both Coronavirus and our usual content throughout the coming weeks and months. You can read other Coronavirus stories here or by clicking the ‘Coronavirus’ tab under the ‘News’ section.

The Politician Independent Newspaper, created in 2020