“My View” from the Oct. 19, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
It hasn’t happened in 212 years, but it might happen in two-and-a-half weeks — a presidential race ending in an Electoral College tie.
If Mitt Romney continues picking up votes in the swing states, we are looking at the possibility that whichever way the popular vote goes, the Electoral College will give 269 votes to Gov. Romney and 269 votes to President Obama. Eleven states are still considered to be in play, according to the website 270towin.com. That creates at least a dozen possible combinations of wins and losses that add up to a tie.
If that happens, America gets a complicated, tension-filled lesson in the Constitution — and a likely result that you would not believe.
The decision for the next president would get thrown to the House of Representatives, where each state gets just one vote apiece. That means the 29 Congress members from New York would get one vote, just as much as would the single Congress member from Montana. Right after the new Congress got sworn in, in early January, all the House members from each state would decide how to cast that state’s one vote.
As you might guess, that’s bad news for Obama. The underpopulated red states outnumber the overpopulated blue states. So even with a predicted Democratic pick-up of about 10 seats in the new House, the president could be expected to lose. As of now, Romney is expected to have 26 states in his corner — and the president can count on only 13. That’s why some of these congressional races matter so much.
But that’s not even the crazy part.
You see, the House doesn’t choose the vice president. That decision goes to the Senate, with a decision by a simple vote. The Senate is — and is expected to remain — Democratic. As a result, if there is a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College, the next president could be Mitt Romney. And the vice president would be Joe Biden. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Maybe it’s time for a constitutional amendment to rethink some of this.
That’s “My View.”