What would happen if a state was an exact tie?

Obviously the chances of this are slight in the extreme. But say Florida in 2000 had ended up with exactly the same number of votes for Bush and Gore. Who gets the EVs, and how do they decide?
Or would each state have its own method of figuring this out?

It’s a matter of state law. Most (all?) states provide for ties in any election to be broken “by lot” or via some other random method.

The state’s election law statutes would govern. The state might call for a runoff between the tied candidates (with minority party nominees omitted). It might award them by lot. In the absence of statutory provision, of course, the constitutional provision that the State Legislature will award the electoral votes would of course kick in. (Technically, that’s what they do now; the popular election is a sort of statutorily-mandated referendum instructing the legislature which way to award the electors.)

There would be a recount and challenges to votes. I would be highly unlikely that exactly the same count would happen twice -I suspect that if it did the challenges would move to the court system?

ps Polycarp and Freddy are right in theory, but as with the hanging chads debacle there are many other messy things that would interfere first

Relevant provision from Illinois law:

The legislature could always decide to split the electoral votes (if it’s an odd number the odd vote could be awarded by lot).

Hold on a minute there. I have never heard of anything which suggested that any state ever allowed sheer random chance to decide the voting in such a fashion. Period.

The Supreme Court would reward it to the repubs again.

See post#6.

It has certainly happened for elections to state level offices. An Arizona state legislator’s seat primary wound up being determined by a single hand of stud poker when the election turned out to be a tie, in accordance with Arizona law which stipulated that in such a case the election was to be determined by a “game of chance”.

It’s happened for some state-level office in Montana, too. But boringly, they just flipped a coin, instead of breaking out the cards.

What happens if the Electoral College for President ties 269-269?

The House chooses the President, one vote per state (and states split evenly would presumably either be unable to vote or match their vote with another state in the same situation), and the Senate chooses the VP, one vote per Senator. With the current Congress, Obama and Biden would both win, and that will likely be even more true with the next Congress.


Please refrain from political commentary of this kind in GQ.

General Questions Moderator

The real answer is that

a) Our methods of counting votes are sufficiently clumsy that we don’t know except within a margin of error how many votes were actually received, or, rather, tiny distinctions in how things are counted & interpreted are sufficient to make such differences and we lack really precise definitions of how they should, indeed, be counted & interpreted; and

b) We’ve done it already, Florida 2000. The fairest interpretation of what happened is that we do not know who won Florida except in the administrative sense of how the electoral votes were ultimately allocated.