Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In an article called "269 tie: An electoral college 'doomsday'?", Joseph Curl of The Washington Times speculates on a few plausible Election Day scenarios that could lead to a tie in the Electoral College, and conceivably result in Sarah Palin serving as Barack Obama's Vice President.
There are at least a half-dozen plausible ways the election can end in a tie, and at least one very plausible possibility - giving each candidate the states in which they now lead in the polls, only New Hampshire - which went Republican in 2000 and Democratic in 2004, each time by just 1.5 percent - needs to swap to the Republican column to wind up with a 269-269 tie.The odds of this happening are slim -- about 1.5 percent -- but higher than they were for the last election. My initial reaction to this possibility was something like, "So what? We're getting stuck with Unity '08 no matter who wins!"
But then I realized that a tie could ultimately be a good thing: It would clothesline any argument that the incoming administration has a "mandate", and if there is one thing we want after Election Day it's anything that will help gridlock happen or destroy any momentum towards tyranny the winner might have. Or almost anything....
The news isn't all good. The law regarding how Congress (or which -- the incoming or the outgoing) should break a tie is not unambiguous, and one particularly nauseating scenario looms: According to Electoral College specialist Judith Best, we could end up handing the reigns over to an Acting President Nancy Pelosi while armies of lawyers duke things out for a couple of years.
In the sad state of confusion regarding the proper role of government, I am loathe to contemplate what could ultimately come out of a protracted constitutional crisis like this. (More foolishness about abolishing the Electoral College, which we should not do, would be just the start.)
This election is potentially a disaster for the cause of individual rights no matter what the outcome. The potential for difficulty in breaking a tie is particularly unfortunate, because a tie otherwise would be just the sort of unintended benefit from the Electoral College we could use right about now.
9-25-08: Corrected a typo.