In the Presidential Race, What Happens in an Electoral College Tie? | America 2020

In mid-July, with many polls showing a blowout lead for Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the presidential race, Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed his television show guest, President Donald Trump, to “give a direct answer” on whether he would accept the outcome of November’s presidential election. Trump demurred. “I have to see. Look … I have to see,” the president replied. “No, I’m not going to just say yes.”

Trump’s reply angered many critics, who called it anti-democratic, and it served to inject another layer of uncertainty into an election process that’s also been shaken by COVID-19, the administration’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, and persistent Russian meddling, among other issues. But there’s another, rarely discussed Election Day scenario that could potentially thrust the country into extended political turmoil: a tied Electoral College.

“I don’t think that we’re prepared for a contingent election at all,” says Robert Alexander, a professor of political science at Ohio Northern University and an expert on the Electoral College. “As tumultuous and chaotic as the last several years have been, I can only imagine that would be amplified in the weeks following a tie vote in the Electoral College.”

Cartoons on the 2020 Election

Recent American history, of course, has produced two highly unusual presidential elections. In 2000, more than one month after votes had been cast, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately halted Florida’s infamous recount effort, confirming a tiny electoral vote victory for George W. Bush.

Just four years ago, Trump lost the popular vote to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, but he still won a comfortable Electoral College margin (304 to Clinton’s 227).

But the Electoral College hasn’t actually been tied since 1800, when a new party nominating system resulted in a split between then vice president Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with each man receiving 73 electoral votes. (After 36 ballots, Congress finally settled on President Jefferson, with Burr going on to serve a term as his vice president.)

This year, under one scenario modelled by the political website 270toWin, the country’s 538 electoral votes could end up evenly divided if swing states Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia turn for Biden while Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio vote for Trump. This scenario also hinges on Biden winning four out of a possible nine combined votes from Maine and Nebraska’s unique “congressional district method,” where those two states each allocate two electoral votes to the overall state popular vote winner and one electoral vote to the winner in each congressional district. Maine, with four electoral votes, is projected for Biden; Nebraska, with five, is a safe bet for Trump.

Still, an overall 269-269 tie remains decidedly unlikely, but it is possible.

“Close elections are actually the rule when it comes to the Electoral College,” says Alexander, who points out that about half of all Electoral College decisions have been decided by 75,000 voters or fewer. “It would take

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NC Republicans tie Democrats’ pledge to defund the police

The issue: House Speaker Tim Moore accused House Democrats of taking more than $100,000 from the group Future Now Fund in exchange for promising to support legislation that would defund the police.

Why we’re checking this

A series of news releases, tweets and a news conference Monday afternoon led to tension and accusations between Democrats and Republicans.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson called Moore’s campaign news release “a lie” and “libelous” ahead of Moore’s news conference Monday.

“This entire press release is a lie,” Jackson tweeted Monday. “The pledge folks signed 2 years ago (before this slogan defund even existed) is on the website. It says nothing about police funding. I don’t blame you for not wanting to talk about Repub record on education and healthcare. But lying is wrong.”

Moore called signing the pledge “a betrayal of the basic public trust to keep families safe, particularly in times of crisis.”

“It is stunning that House Democrats in North Carolina would sign a pledge to defund law enforcement, and that so many in their caucus would join with radical national liberals promising to cut funding for police officers who protect innocent people,” Moore said.

What you need to know

Future Now Fund gave $59,400 to 11 Democratic candidates for state House this year, giving each the maximum contribution of $5,400.

Those candidates include:

  • Nicole Quick, House District 59 candidate
  • Joe Sam Queen, District 119 incumbent
  • Christy Clark, District 98 incumbent
  • Ray Russell, District 93 incumbent
  • Sydney Batch, District 37 incumbent
  • Brian Farkas, District 9 candidate
  • Kimberly Hardy, District 43 candidate
  • Ricky Hurtado, District 63 candidate
  • Frances Jackson, District 45 candidate
  • Dan Besse, District 74 candidate
  • Aimy Steele, District 82 candidate.

The N.C. Democratic Party also received $50,000 from the Future Now Fund on June 30, according to the Board of Elections. On June 25, Future Now Fund tweeted that it was matching an hour’s worth of donations given during an NC Day of Giving fundraiser held by the party that day. Future Now Fund Executive Director Daniel Squadron said in a video the matching funds would support House Democrats.

At least 30 Democratic House members, along with dozens of candidates who either are running now or ran in 2018, have signed a pledge from Future Now Fund.

But Squadron said they did not sign on or pledge to defund the police or to carry out model legislation that riled up Republicans Monday.

“America’s Goals Pledge is not a one-size fits all pledge or an endorsement of a single policy,” Squadron told The News & Observer. “It’s shameful and disgusting that the North Carolina House Speaker is lying to the people in his state. In fact, it’s a lie built on a lie.”

This is what happened

In 2018 and 2020, some House Democrats and candidates signed the pledge.

Future Now says it serves as a way to “improve Americans’ lives” by winning state legislative majorities and then working with those majorities to “achieve goals for the common good,” according to

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