President John Boehner

A billion dollars. $1,000,000,000. That’s how much each campaign has spent thus far, with a final splurge in the sprint to the finish happening now.

And it could all be for nothing. There is a genuine possibility of an electoral college tie; there are 32 potential scenarios. Many national polls have Governor Romney ahead, but not in the crucial swing states he needs to reach the magic 270 college votes.

A joint session of Congress meets on January 6th after a Presidential election to officially count the electoral college votes. This is a normal link in the chain between election day on November 6 and inauguration day on January 20th. If the lawyers have exhausted every other avenue of appeal, and the college vote is deadlocked at 269 apiece (at this point it’s worth noting that only around half of the 50 states have laws requiring the electoral college delegates to adhere to the popular vote, so the pressure on those delegates to flip would be huge under this scenario) responsibility for voting in the President and Vice President falls to the House and Senate members themselves.

Each state delegation casts one vote, regardless of whether it’s California with 53 representatives or one of the seven states with a single representative. In the unlikely event that the House itself is evenly divided, and the resulting vote from the state delegations is 25-25, and the tie can not be broken, Speaker of the House John Boehner becomes President. The House is likely to have a Republican majority returned at this election though, so the most likely outcome would be a majority House vote electing President Mitt Romney.

The constitution says the Senate has to choose the Vice President from the top two VP candidates, presumably Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. After this election the senate could be 50-50. But tie-breaking votes in the senate are cast by the Vice President…

It’s no wonder the push for a popularly elected President is gaining momentum here.


Photo courtesy United States Congress.

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