What if we had a party, and no one came?
Last updated 2/6/2018 at 7:09pm
Given the fluidity of the presidential contest, it may not be premature to dust off our hip pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and worry about what happens if neither of the contenders gets the requisite 270 electoral votes to become the forty-fifth president.
The road to 270 votes, at the moment, depends upon whether Mrs. Clinton can hold on to all the solidly blue states, plus most of the left-leaners. Today, Florida (with 29 electoral votes) is a tie. Six others, Ohio (18), Michigan (16), North Carolina (15), Wisconsin (10), Nevada (6) and Vermont (3) are considered "barely" Democrat. Accordingly, if Mr. Trump, who at the moment can claim 211 electoral votes, prevails in Florida plus just three of these six states of interest (Wisconsin, Michigan and Vermont) he could throw the race into the U.S. House of Representatives.
A tie wouldn't be all that bad a result. Even if the Republicans control the House, they are not united; accordingly, they may not agree. Notably, it is not the representatives who vote, but the delegations from each state; therefore, the vote of U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is of equal value to the vote of the entire California delegation!
As the House of Representatives now stands, 33 states have Republican majorities, 14 have Democrat majorities and three are evenly balanced. People from the District of Columbia, have no say in the matter. Presumably, therefore, if the matter is thrown into the House, the Republicans will select the next president. That would probably be an end to the matter; however, it appears that not all Republican Congressmen, at the moment, support Mr. Trump.
If the majority of only those states dominated by Republican representatives chose not to support Mr. Trump, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment would come in to play. It says: "If a president shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the president-elect shall have failed to qualify, then the vice president-elect shall act as president until a president shall have qualified; and the congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a president-elect nor a vice president-elect shall have qualified."
The Presidential Succession Act (3 USC § 19 ) provides: "f, by reason of failure to qualify, there is neither a President nor Vice President to discharge the powers and duties of the office of President, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall, upon his resignation as Speaker and as Representative in Congress, act as President."
This leaves open an interesting array of possibilities.
For example, it is incumbent on the U.S. Senate to select the vice president where there is a tie.
If the Senate turns Democrat, as might be the case, it might choose U.S. Sen.
Tim Kaine, D-Va., to be the acting president - unless the Senate cannot agree.
If the Republican majority holds, the Senate may select Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
The Senate does not vote by state, each member has an individual vote.
If the Senate breaks exactly evenly and every single senator is present and voting, Vice President Joe Biden could possibly cast the tie-breaking vote.
On the other hand, if the Senate cannot decide which vice presidential contender should be the acting president, it is conceivable that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., could be the next President of the United States.
Americans, Alaskans and miners, you have the honor of living in "interesting times." Even if your vote for president of the United States doesn't count because the result of the election will probably be known before the polls close in Alaska, your vote for whom we send to Congress may make all the difference in the world.