A Joe Biden-Mike Pence presidency? Electoral College tie could result in most unusual POTUS-VP combo
With no certain election winner chalked up yet, there are speculations of an Electoral College tie between the candidates and the eventual emergence of a Nancy Pelosi presidency but there is another scenario
With just hours left for the US Election Day, it is indubitable that the results of the 2020 US presidential elections will be contentious. As pre-election polls show Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, leading several states, political pundits now know better than to deny the atypical nature of Donald Trump's poll-defying candidacy. With no certain election winner chalked up yet, there are speculations of an Electoral College (EC) tie between the candidates and the eventual emergence of a Nancy Pelosi presidency. However, there is a scenario that could result in the most unusual of the candidates being instated in an administration — a Biden-Pence presidency.
Congress can designate an Acting President if the Electoral College is unable to elect a president by Inauguration Day, according to the US Constitution. A 1947 law states, “if by reason of death, resignation, removal from office, inability, or 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.” Therefore, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could become Acting President on January 20. However, Elizabeth Larus, Professor of Political Science at the University of Mary Washington, believes that a Pelosi presidency is unlikely and that there's a better chance of a Biden-Pence administration instead.
"If the Democrats maintain control of the House and keep their current leadership, as most observers predict, Nancy Pelosi could find herself Acting President on Inauguration Day. However, this is unlikely," the professor told MEAWW. "Under the US Constitution, an EC tie throws the election for president into the House of Representatives. Note that the House members who would vote would be those who were elected on November 3, 2020, and sworn in on January 6, 2021. If the House were to decide the presidential race, they would almost certainly select Joe Biden."
"Each state gets one vote in the election in the House and Democrats are certain to maintain a majority in the House, thereby all but guaranteeing a Biden victory," Larus added. "So there is little chance of an Acting Presidency. Note that the Senate selects the vice president in the case of an EC tie. If the Senate remains in GOP hands, there is the possibility of a Biden presidency and a Mike Pence vice presidency. The vice president on occasion is called on to break a tie in the Senate. It would be important for Republicans to have a Republican vice president who can act favorably to them as a tie-breaker in the Senate."
Although an electoral tie is generally considered unlikely, one did occur decades ago in the election of 1836 between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. After deliberation, the House of Representatives eventually settled on Jefferson as the country's third president, and Burr was selected as his vice president. That year's election revealed a need to amend the US Constitution and the 12th Amendment was then passed to requiring separate contests for the offices of president and vice president.