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What If the Presidential Election Is a Tie?

It's up to Congress to Decide 

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Row of 'Vote' buttons
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People ask lots of questions about the U.S. Constitution, most of them starting with, "What if...?" Here's a good one: "What if... the Electoral College vote is a tie?" What if the 538 Electors sit down after the election and vote to a 269 to 269 tie?

House Selects the New President
As directed by the 12th Amendment, the 435 -- many of them brand new -- members of the House of Representatives would find as their first official duty the selection of the next President of the United States. "Welcome to Congress!"

Unlike the Electoral College system, where larger population equals more votes, each state in the House gets exactly one (1) vote when selecting the president. Even California, with its 53 Representatives, get one vote. 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. Should the House fail to meet the deadline, well, more on that later.

It is up to the group, or "delegation" of representatives from each state to decide among themselves how their state will cast its one and only vote. Suddenly, smaller states like Wyoming, Montana and Vermont, with only one representative wield as much power as California or New York.

Senate Selects the New Vice President
As the House is selecting the new president, the Senate is busy selecting the new vice-president. In the Senate, each of the 100 Senators gets one vote, with a simple majority -- 51 -- Senators required to select the vice-president. Unlike it does on the House, the 12th Amendment places no time limit on the Senate's selection of a vice president.

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