With the 2020 presidential election less than a week away, many are speculating about what would happen if there is a tie in the Electoral College vote. Although unlikely, a potential tie is not entirely impossible and does have historical precedent.
The Electoral College consists of 538 votes distributed among all 50 states and Washington, D.C. To become president, a candidate must win a majority of these votes, with 270 being the absolute minimum.
But 538 is an even number, meaning that there could be a scenario in which both candidates receive 269 electoral votes. In that outcome, the vote would go to the U.S. House of Representatives to break the tie.
Unlike the number of electoral votes, there are 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives, meaning that a majority vote is guaranteed. However, each state – and not each representative – gets one vote, based on the party majority.
So, for example, a vote among U.S. representatives from Maryland – which has seven Democrats and one Republican – would go to the Democratic candidate. A vote among U.S. representatives from Florida – which has 13 Democrats and 14 Republicans – would go to the Republican candidate.