There appears to be a chance that the U.S. Electoral College will be split evenly between the democrats and the republicans in the next presidential election. If that happens the decision will be taken by the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution.
The Constitution stipulates that, in such cases, the House of Representatives will choose the President and the Senate will choose the Vice-President.
However, that does not mean that the majority vote in either house will determine the outcome. There is an obscure Constitutional provision that spells out how a tie in the Electoral College is to be broken, and it involves state delegations instead of individual votes.
Each state delegation receives one vote regardless of how many congressmen are in that delegation. For example, New York’s twenty-seven (27) member delegation gets one (1) vote and so does New Mexico’s three (3) member delegation. Texas has thirty-six (36) members and Rhode Island has two (2) members…..one (1) delegation vote each!
Under the current situation, despite the fact that the democrats control the House of Representatives (235 to 197), the republicans have more state delegate votes.
With the Electoral College split, the 117th Congress — House and Senate members elected in 2020 — would undertake the task of choosing the next president and vice president on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, according to federal statute. Assuming Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, he would all but certainly emerge as the winner. And, assuming the 2020 Democratic nominee wins the popular vote, a likely outcome since 2016 standard-bearer Hillary Clinton did win by nearly 3 million ballots, a Trump win via the House vote would represent the third presidential contest out of the last six where a Republican triumphs despite losing the popular vote.
The procedure in this case – a few hundred politicians in the House choosing the president not even by a straight majority – would seem even more undemocratic and unfair than the two previous races determined by the Electoral College against the popular vote.
“It’s among the most egregious violations of democratic principles imaginable,” is how George Edwards III, a retired professor and author of “Why the Electoral College Is Bad for America,” put it. “There’s simply no principle that can justify it.”
I repeat what I said in the first blog on the Electoral College. It is an anachronism, based on extremely dubious origins, that has no place in a democratic structure. In fact, you could argue, that it invalidates the United States claim to be the home and shining example of democracy in the world.
A travesty that needs immediate correction. A Constitutional Amendment would be needed but a Constitutional Convention would be even better.