Speaker Nancy Pelosi has begun mobilizing Democrats for the possibility that neither Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump will win an outright Electoral College victory, a once-in-a-century phenomenon that would send the fate of the presidency to the House of Representatives to decide.
Under that scenario, which hasn’t happened since 1876, every state’s delegation gets a single vote. Who receives that vote is determined by an internal tally of each lawmaker in the delegation. This means the presidency may not be decided by the party that controls the House itself but by the one that controls more state delegations in the chamber. And right now, Republicans control 26 delegations to Democrats’ 22, with Pennsylvania tied and Michigan a 7-6 plurality for Democrats, with a 14th seat held by independent Justin Amash.
Pelosi said would force Democrats to shift their strategy ahead of November.
“The Constitution says that a candidate must receive a majority of the state delegations to win,” the House leader wrote, according to Politico. “We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so.”
A tie in the Electoral College could result from a number of scenarios, including neither candidate reaching 270 electoral votes due to voting totals or as the result of so-called “faithless” electors, or electors who do not vote for the candidate who is victorious in their state.
Republicans currently hold overall control of 26 state delegations, compared to 23 for Democrats. Pennsylvania’s delegation is split evenly. Both of those numbers could change wildly in November, however, as all 435 voting members of the House are up for reelection.