Here's what happens if no one wins the November election


The House could be called upon to decide the presidential election winner if the Electoral College outcome is not clear by Jan. 6.

It’s only happened three times in history that the U.S. House of Representatives was involved in determining the winner of the presidential election.

But this election year, the House could be called upon again to do just that — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't leaving "anything to chance."

"House Majority PAC is doing everything it can to win more delegations for Democrats," Pelosi said over the weekend in a letter to Democratic colleagues, according to NPR. "It's sad we have to have to plan this way, but it's what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen."

The decision will go to the House in the unlikely scenario that the outcome of the election is unclear by Jan. 6. 

What typically happens following an election: A joint session of Congress convenes to tally the Electoral College votes and announce the winner of the presidential election. 

However, if the Electoral College is deadlocked or if no candidate receives the majority of votes, then a "contingent election" is held in the House, according to the chamber's website. Each state delegation would cast one vote for one of the top three contenders, as stipulated in the 12th Amendment

As it stands right now, Donald Trump is at an advantage with Republicans in control of 26 of the state delegations, while Democrats have 22. Two states are tied. 

"We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so," Pelosi wrote.

Should a "contingent election" be held after Jan. 6, the newly elected House lawmakers would make up each state's congressional delegation. 

In the 1800 presidential election, both candidates Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied at 73 electoral ballots. House members voted as a state delegation and determined Jefferson to be the winner. 

The decision went to the House again in the 1824 presidential election, when there were four candidates but none of them commanded an overall majority. Andrew Jackson had 99 Electoral College votes, John Quincy Adams had 85, William Crawford had 41 and Henry Clay had 37. Since the 12th Amendment required the House to consider the top three candidates, the state legislation decided between Jackson, Adams and Crawford, ultimately choosing Adams as the winner. 

The last presidential election to require congressional intervention (though not a "contingent election") was the one in 1876 between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. Despite Tilden having won the popular vote and electoral count, Republicans challenged the results in the three southern states, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, submitting certificates of election for both candidates.

As a result, Congress in 1877 established the bipartisan Federal Electoral Commission, which included representatives, senators, and Supreme Court justices. They voted along party lines to award all three states’ electoral votes to Hayes, who won the presidency by a single electoral vote, according to the House site

Fast forward to more than 140 years later, where congressional lawmakers have been mapping out various possibilities for weeks, according to the Associated Press

"We are planning for all eventualities, I can tell you that,"  Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) said earlier this month, according to the AP. 

Meanwhile, Pelosi is warning her delegation that Trump has shown he "will do whatever it takes to remain in power."

"I've been working on this for a while, I've been working on almost every scheme he might have to steal the election," Pelosi told MSNBC on Monday. "Anything we do to increase our numbers in the House, whether it's state delegations or members of Congress wherever they are, will help us hold the House and enlarge our size, win the Senate, and elect Joe Biden president of the United States on Election Day — or the few days that it takes to count thereafter."

During a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Trump spoke openly about using the House to decide and win the presidential election.

"And I don't want to end up in the Supreme Court and I don't want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress — does everyone understand that?" Trump said. "I think it's 26 to 22 or something because it's counted one vote per state, so we actually have an advantage. Oh, they're going to be thrilled to hear that."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.