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What if Obama and Romney tied?

By Marisa Spano We all witnessed the fervor of election night. Obama will be taking office for the next four years and continuing his work.

But here is an interesting thought: What if Obama and Romney had tied the election? The scenario, if not plausible, is technically possible. There are 528 Electoral votes in total, so in theory each party could receive 269 votes, resulting in an Electoral tie. They would each fall short of the 270 votes needed to win, throwing the election into chaos.

Imagine Mitt Romney taking the presidential oath of office on January 21, 2013—but instead of having running mate Paul Ryan by his side, Romney with Joe Biden beside him. The Electoral College could split the parties of the presidency and vice presidency in half. The president may be a Republican while the vice president is a Democrat. Let’s imagine that there are a solid 237 electoral votes for Obama and a solid 191 for Romney, just as there were on Tuesday evening. The remaining 110 electoral votes are up for grabs in the nine battleground states, Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire.

From here, there are a couple of possible scenarios. The only one that would result in a tie is Obama carrying Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin while Romney carries Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa. Who would be responsible for breaking such a tie? Under Article 2 of the Constitution, the House of Representatives would be accountable for the break.

When the newly elected House is seated in January, lawmakers would take a vote for a final decision. Each state delegation would have one vote, which means a candidate would need to get to 26 votes. With Republicans in control of the House and expected to keep the majority after the upcoming election, an Electoral College tie would most likely equal a victory for Mitt Romney. The first candidate to win the votes of any 26 states is the new president. The 12th Amendment gives the House until the fourth day of March to select a president. However, the issue of vice president would be left up to the Senate. Each of the 100 Senators would get one vote. Put simply, 51 Senators would be required to select the vice-president. The 12th Amendment places no time limit on the Senate’s selection of a vice president. Although an exact tie is unlikely, this system is also used if there are more than two candidates for president and none of them get the majority of the vote.

We can only be grateful that the election on Tuesday night involved none of these desperate measures and that Obama won with a clear majority.

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