In a few hours the 2020 presidential elections will be over, and voters are waiting for the final result of a turbulent and long electoral cycle. In the week before election day, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden traveled around the country and spoke to voters to win the presidency at the last minute.
The number of early ballots reached record levels: more than 99 million Americans cast their votes before November 3. Even now, it could be days before Americans know who has won the presidential race after casting their votes both in person and by mail. Although in swing states like Florida, Arizona and North Carolina, votes are expected to be counted that night or shortly thereafter, Vox reports. Of course, it is not simply the number of people who voted that ultimately makes the difference, it is the electoral college that counts the most.
Although it may seem hard to believe that there could ever be a tie in a presidential election, it was between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr in 1800. This was only the fourth election in American history, and when officials tried to add up the votes, both candidates had received 73 votes. Now, as the country has grown, there are 538 voters-which means each candidate needs 270 or more to win an election.
So what happens if there is a tie? In 1800, the government looked at the constitution, which included a plan for when the votes were tied. “If there is more than one candidate who has such a majority and receives the same number of votes, the House of Representatives will immediately elect one of them as president by ballot.
In 1800, it took the House of Representatives quite a while to reach an agreement. In fact, the House of Representatives reached an impasse 36 times before finally electing Thomas Jefferson as the winner, according to History.com.
Fast forward to today, if all votes were counted after November 3 and there was a tie, the decision would still be left to the House of Representatives. To decide, each state’s delegation would cast a single vote to determine which candidate had the majority support.
As of October 30, FiveThirtyEight says that Joe Biden is favored to win the election based on the national and state polls. But given the many twists and turns this year has brought, it’s hard to say exactly what will happen on November 3 and in the days after.