House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly briefing Congress on the possibility that neither President Trump nor Democratic challengerJoe Biden will win the Electoral College during the upcoming presidential election – which would result in her chamber deciding which party will hold the presidency.
Such a situation hasn’t happened since 1876. And if it does, each state’s delegation would get one vote. Which candidate receives that single vote would be based on an internal count of the House lawmakers that make up a given delegation. So the presidency would depend not necessarily on which party holds more seats in the House, but which holds more delegations.
At present, Republicans control 26 delegations, and Democrats control 22. Pennsylvania is evenly split, and Michigan is divided 7-6 in favor of the Democrats, though independent Justin Amash holds the state’s 14th seat.
In several states, just one lawmaker’s vote could make the difference between an entire delegation opting to elect Trump or Biden. Such a situation would also likely result in contentious legal battles.
On Sunday, Pelosi sent a letter to her caucus encouraging members to consider the House’s potential role in the upcoming election and consolidating resources toward winning seats in November, according to Politico.
“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” she wrote. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”
The president also has alluded to the apparent Republican advantage.
“I don’t want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress. … Oh, [Democrats] going to be thrilled to hear that,” he said Saturday at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.
The balloting would take place on January 6, 2021, when members of the incoming Congress are sworn in.
States whose delegations split their votes evenly are not counted.
Party leaders are now purportedly focusing not just on protecting vulnerable seats and picking them up nationwide.
They’re instead also looking at how to win over strategic delegations that could ultimately determine the country’s next president.