Election Armageddon: Repeat of Bush v. Gore?

The nation heads out to vote on Tuesday for their choice of President, the winner may not be known for a while after Election Day is over.

With such a tie race, according to polls, a tie in the Electoral College could prove to provide the nation with a delay on figuring out who the next President will be.

In a few circumstances, both President Barack Obama and his challenger Republican Mitt Romney, could end up with 269 Electoral votes each, meaning the vote would come down to Congress to select the next President and Vice President of America.

One possible way that both President Obama and Romney could tie with 269 Electoral votes. Click the photo to go a WSJ interactive map and play with the states Electoral votes.

Stephen Voss, Associate Professor of Political Science at UK, said a tie in the Electoral College is the same as no candidate receiving a majority, like in early days of America.

“Once they all fail to (get a majority), then the top three vote getters have to take it into Congress, to settle the competition,” Voss said.

Though is it similar to that of the election of 1824, when John Quincy Adams beat out Andrew Jackson, thanks to Kentucky native Henry Clay, who had his supports back Adams, giving him enough votes to win, it could be more interesting than that election, said Voss.

“One thing that makes a 269-269 tie more interesting, perhaps, … is that it’s hard for people to recognize a sort of expected winner, the way, say, they recognized Andrew Jackson had the most popular vote, when he lost his first Presidential race,” Voss said. “In that case they would both have equal claim to legitimacy of taking the seat.”

“I think the Constitutional crisis would be more severe if we see as 269 to 269 split, because whatever side ultimately loses in the struggle will feel all the more cheated,” he said. “I expect, if you have a slice in this country, that had 269 Electoral votes and was denied (the Presidency), not by court case, but just by that narrow, narrow margin, there would be incentive for people to mobilize.”

The Constitution, in the 12th Amendment, states how the President will be chosen, if no candidate has a  majority of Electoral votes.

“If no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”

When the votes are read before a joint session of Congress, generally on Jan. 6, when the new Congress has been installed, according to the Constitution, if the tie occurs, the vote by the House of Representatives will “choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”

The Vice President, however, is chosen by the Senate, in a similar manner as the President. Because of this, and how Congress is currently split between parties, America could end up with a Romney-Biden administration for the next four years.

Control of the House and Senate are not expected to change hands to the opposing party during the elections, meaning 33 of the 50 state delegations in the House are majority Republican and there is a majority of Democrats in Senate seats.

“The votes could go along party lines; you sort of expect they would,” Voss said. “That would mean that there was someone of the other party waiting in the wings.”

An option for what would happen with the House and Senate votes, based on their layout of parties in each Chamber, resulting in a split Presidency, which hasn’t happened since 1824 election.

Voss, however, thinks with such a small amount of people determining the election, 435 in the House and 100 in the Senate, that a compromise could be reached on who is elected Vice President.

“You could imagine, let’s say, Romney wins the 269-269 tie breaker in the House,” he said. “You could imagine an attempt among a group of Democrats to team up with Republicans to come up with a compromise Republican. Not Paul Ryan, but still somebody who would be from the Republican party that the Democrats would find more acceptable.”

Voss said the country would be in uncharted territory if a tie occurred, meaning things would be made up as they went along, as long as they followed the Constitution.

Other news outlets, like Yahoo!, have had stories about this since late October, when the race began to tighten.

Polls close at 6 p.m.  and the results will start to trickle in shortly afterward, with a country eagerly awaiting one candidate to reach the 270 threshold to win the White House.

Another possible way both candidates could end in a 269 tie on Election Day. Click on the photo to be taken CNN’s interactive election map.
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One thought on “Election Armageddon: Repeat of Bush v. Gore?

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