Around the world people are sitting in front of their laptops in anticipation of who will be announced as the 46th President of the United States.

There has been much frustration over this election- as neither Biden, nor Trump have secured the required 270 electoral college votes to win the presidency.

The total number of electoral college votes sits at 538. You need 270 to win.

How it works:

Every political party selects ‘electors’ (representatives) for each state. And each state has a different number of electors allowed, which are determined by the US Constitution; for example, Arizona has 11 electors, whereas Georgia has 16.

When people go to the polls to vote, their ballots are counted, and the party with the highest percentage of votes will ‘win’ that state- meaning that all of the electors from the ‘winning party’ will be added to either the Republican or Democrat electoral college vote total.

Most* states follow a ‘winner takes all’ scenario, meaning if Democrats win the most votes in a particular state, they secure all of the electoral college votes for that state.


While we await the vote counts for the final three battleground states: Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, let us consider what would happen if neither Biden, nor Trump get the required 270 votes.

What if it is a tie? Is this possible? Well yes, technically it is. Unlikely, but we have time to consider the possibilities as we wait for the ballots to be released…

If neither get the 270, a Contingent Election could take place.

A Contingent Election is when the House of Representatives (HOR) vote for the new President. And the Senate votes for the new Vice-President.

For the HOR, each state delegation gets one vote, so they must all vote together in a bloc. Simple majority wins and determines the newly elected President.

For the Senate, each Senator gets one vote individually-and again the majority vote determines the new Vice-President.

Just like what happened in 1800 with Jefferson and Burr (the rules did change slightly following that election, but it was the first Contingent Election in the United States).

Wait am I watching Hamilton or another episode of ‘what happens next in 2020’….?

Okay, but then what happens if both the House of Representatives and the Senate fail to vote in a simple majority and are unable to elect the President or Vice President?

There would be continuous ballots put forward to the House and the Senate, until a majority is won. It may take 35 ballots like in Jefferson-Burr, but eventually the House will come to an agreement-or it will be taken up by the Supreme Court.

November 6, 2020