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The US presidential race appears to be coming down to the wire in battleground states. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is projected to win California, Oregon and Washington, traditionally “blue” states that carry a whopping 74 Electoral College votes combined. However, US President Donald Trump is projected to win Florida and looks to be competitive in Texas.
Other results all point towards the rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan being where the election will be won or lost.
It is therefore still unclear whether the incumbent President will be getting a second term, or whether Mr Biden has done enough to get the keys to the White House.
With key swing states yet to call a winner, it’s going to be a close call.
Some people even floated the idea there could be a tie.
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Attaching a picture of an evenly split electoral map, Bloomberg’s political reporter Ryan Teague Beckwith recently wrote on Twitter: “I regret to inform you that this map is still possible.”
To win the presidency, a candidate must win 270 Electoral College votes, or a majority of the 538 electors at stake in the election.
However, it is possible that a presidential election could result in a tie, 269 to 269.
This would mean that even if Mr Biden does not win, Mr Trump could be stopped from being re-elected President by his arch-rival, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
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In case of a tie, the presidential election is decided in the US House of Representatives in a “contingent election,” with each state delegation having one vote.
Only the top three candidates in terms of electoral votes are considered. Whichever candidate can win the majority of states, or 26, becomes the President.
As a member of the House, then, Congresswoman Pelosi could contribute to making sure Mr Trump does not get the keys to the Oval Office.
Meanwhile, the US Senate elects the Vice President but only the top two candidates are considered. Whichever candidate wins the majority of senators, or 51, becomes Vice President.
Under this scenario, Mr Biden could become US President and Republican nominee Mike Pence could become his Vice President.
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Alternatively, Mr Trump could be joined by Kamala Harris.
Contingent elections are extremely rare, having occurred only three times in American history, all in the early 1800s.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson was pitted against his own vice-presidential nominee in a contingent election due to problems with the original electoral procedure.
In 1824, the presence of four candidates split the Electoral College, and Andrew Jackson lost the contingent election to John Quincy Adams despite winning a plurality of both the popular and electoral vote.
In 1836, faithless electors in Virginia refused to vote for Martin Van Buren’s vice-presidential nominee Richard Mentor Johnson, denying him a majority of the electoral vote and forcing the Senate to elect him in a contingent election.
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