Although Election Day has come and gone without a winner being declared, Americans are still expecting either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden to take the oath of office come January.
However, those aren’t the only possible outcomes: in an article published Wednesday, Fox News writer Bradford Betz outlined a scenario in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could take over the presidency.
Unlikely, but not impossible
While Betz concedes that such an outcome remains “unlikely,” it would still be “not entirely impossible and does have historical precedent,” he said.
Betz notes that victory for either candidate is contingent on him winning at least 270 of the Electoral College’s 538 available votes.
“But,” the article continues, “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.”
While there are 435 House members, the vote wouldn’t be taken on an individual basis. Instead, the decision would be made by a delegation from each state.
“So, for example, a vote among U.S. representatives from Maryland — which has seven Democrats and one Republican — would go to the Democratic candidate,” Betz explains in his article.
Pelosi as president?
“A vote among U.S. representatives from Florida — which has 13 Democrats and 14 Republicans — would go to the Republican candidate,” Betz continued.
“The vice president, meanwhile, would be chosen by the Senate in the case of a tie,” Betz pointed out. “This means that the U.S. could have a Republican president and Democratic vice president.”
Should House members fail to agree on a president, then the individual selected by the Senate to be vice president would then assume the role of “acting president” until an actual president is chosen.
However, it is possible that the House nor Senate could arrive at a decision. Betz writes that if this happens, Pelosi “would become acting president until both chambers of Congress decide on someone.”
“But,” Betz said, “a tie in the Electoral College — let alone the speaker of the House becoming acting president — is highly unlikely to happen.” The only time an Electoral College ties has occurred was in the 1800 election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.