Yes, just when I think I finally understand how the U.S. election process works (or doesn't work), I get thrown a Constitutional head fake.
It is looking more and more possible that On Nov. 5, the presidential election winds up in a electoral-college tie, 269-269. What happens then? Well, I can only assume that the Democrat-controlled House picks Sen. Barack Obama as president. But, the Senate, with former Democrat Joe Lieberman voting with Republicans, puts the vote for VP in a deadlock at 50-50.
What happens then? According to an archaic system in the Constitution, the current Vice President steps in to break the tie. Who do you think he’ll pick as his successor? I’m guessing Republican Sarah Palin.
Sound impossible? It’s not. According to an article in the Washington Times this week, there are at least a half-dozen plausible ways the election can end in a tie (based on polling and last election results).
Absurd? Possibly, and get this: there is not complete agreement among constitutional experts on whether a newly elected Congress or the currently sitting House and Senate would make the decision. Wow. Can you say never-ending law suits? And there's more.
From Washington Times:
So try this scenario: The newly elected House, seated in January, is unable to muster a majority to choose a president after a 269-269 tie, but the Senate, which is expected to be controlled by Democrats, picks Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. from the Democratic ticket. If the House is still deadlocked at noon on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, Mr. Biden becomes acting president.
Or try this one on for size: Neither the House nor the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty to select the president and the vice president by Jan. 20, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, becomes acting president until the whole mess is sorted out.
“That would cause all kinds of lawsuits: We would have 50 Floridas, and we might not know who the president is for two years,” said Judith Best, a political science and Electoral College specialist at the State University of New York in Cortland.
The archaic system in the Constitution was set up in the days of oil lamps and horse-drawn carriages. After the presidential vote on the first Tuesday in November, electors have until the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, this year Dec. 15, to reach the state capital, where they cast their ballots for president.
The electoral vote is then transmitted “sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the president of the Senate,” according to the 12th Amendment. If there’s a tie, the 1804 amendment says, the House of Representatives “shall choose immediately, by ballot, the president.”
“The Constitution says ‘immediately,’” Mr. Hess said. “It’s that word ‘immediately’ that makes me believe it’s got to be the outgoing Congress that makes the decision, because we know that the Electoral College ballots are counted in December.”
“The probability of a tie in 2008 is about 1.5 percent, which is slightly higher than we calculated at about the same time back in 2004,” said Paul Sracic, associate professor in the department of political science Youngstown State University in Ohio, who enlisted the help of the university’s math department to come up with a possible 1,024 combinations with the current 10 states now considered tossups.
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Eventually, only members of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit, and Ale who have contributed intelligent posts and/or comments on this blog may be in the running. All just something to think about.