What if it’s a tie? - The Intrepid

Monday, September 22, 2008

What if it’s a tie?

If Americans voted today based on current polling data the result would be a tie.

Both McCain and Obama would receive 269 electoral votes. This particular electoral combination is not the only way the vote could result in a tie, there are several highly probably combinations.

Is this a nightmare scenario? Professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia argues that it is. Although the U.S. Constitution has a contingency in the event that a candidate does not reach required number of electoral votes, it hasn’t been used since 1824. According to the Constitution, Congress and the Senate then decide the election. Congress votes for the President, and the Senate votes for the Vice President.

While Senators simply cast a vote, and the majority winner becomes Vice President, the Congressional vote for the President is far more complicated. The house votes by states. Each state delegation gets one vote, and candidate with majority number of votes wins.

This system was problematic in 1824 when Congress selected John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, despite the fact that Jackson captured a plurality of the popular and electoral vote. Today the use of such a system would be catastrophic.

Imagine if Obama won the Congressional vote, but the Republicans managed to control the Senate and elected Sarah Palin Vice President. How would that work?

More problematic, however, is the fact that large states like California, Texas, and New York would have a vote equal to Wyoming, Vermont, and Alaska. Millions of voters in the U.S. most populous states would be disenfranchised.

If Electoral College produces a tie, Obama would likely be the beneficiary. The Democrats are, at the very least, expected to retain control of both the House and the Senate. However, the potential for voting gridlock, disenfranchisement, and economic crisis from the uncertainty that such a vote would cause would be devastating.

America’s economic position is already precarious. If America and the World had to wait until early January for a new Congress to vote, the uncertainty would plunge the U.S. into economic chaos. Not to mention that the results would produce bitter resentment on par, or worse than, Bush's victory in the 2000 election.