What Happens If The Electoral College Ties?

What Happens If The Electoral College Ties?

Dan Stark, Student Editor

To win a presidential election, a candidate must receive a minimum of 270 electoral votes, a narrow majority of the 538 votes in the Electoral College. But what if two candidates tie the vote at 269-269?

In an electoral college tie scenario, which has never happened before, the vote goes to the House of Representatives in January after new congressmen and women are sworn in. For this, each state gets one vote no matter how many representatives a state has. A state’s house vote would likely go to whichever party has more members. New York for example, which is represented by 21 Democrats and six Republicans, would probably give its vote to the democratic nominee, while Ohio, represented by 12 Republicans and four democrats, would probably give its votes to the Republican nominee. 

An Electoral College tie in the 2020 election is one of the biggest fears of the Democratic Party. While they hold a majority of members in the House, they don’t control a majority of state delegations. Republicans hold a majority in 26 states while Democrats hold a majority in 23 states. Even though Democrats are on track to gain seats in the House, the only state with the potential for its delegation to flip is Pennsylvania, which is currently represented by an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Even if it is flipped, they would still not have enough votes and President Donald Trump would likely be re-elected president.

There are a few scenarios where the electoral tie could occur. In one scenario, Democratic nominee Joe Biden would carry all the states Hillary Clinton carried and flip Michigan, Pennsylvania and either Maine’s second congressional district or Nebraska’s second congressional district, while Trump holds the rest of the states he carried in 2016. Another scenario involves Biden flipping Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona while carrying the 2016 Clinton states and President Trump carrying the rest, including Pennsylvania. While there are other scenarios, these are the most likely outcomes in an Electoral College tie scenario.

That being said, the likelihood of an Electoral College tie this election is fairly low right now. Biden is up seven percent nationwide and is leading in numerous key swing states. However, if the race tightens up in the next few weeks, then the chance of an Electoral College tie could increase, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen as of now.