COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With a lull in state calls late Wednesday morning after The Associated Press declared Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden, there are four scenarios in which the Electoral College – made up of 538 electors – could still end up in a 269-269 tie.
Seven states (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and Alaska), plus one of Maine’s congressional districts, have yet to be called by the AP.
As of 1:40 p.m. ET, Biden currently leads with 238 electoral votes to President Donald Trump’s 213. Here are the four scenarios, in no particular order, in which an already unprecedented election could yield an unprecedented tie result under the Electoral College system:
Tie scenario No. 1
- Biden 269 (WI, PA, 1 left in ME)
- Trump 269 (MI, NC, GA, NV, AK)
Tie scenario No. 2
- Biden 269 (MI, NC)
- Trump 269 (PA, WI, GA, NV, AK, 1 left in ME)
Tie scenario No. 3
- Biden 269 (GA, NC)
- Trump 269 (WI, MI, PA, NV, AK, 1 left in ME)
Tie scenario No. 4
- Biden 269 (WI, NV, NC)
- Trump 269 (PA, MI, GA, AK, 1 left in ME)
Those watching results should keep in mind that elections experts believe these scenarios are more unlikely than not, and they have been unlikely since before Election Day. FiveThirtyEight’s pre-election forecast gave a less-than-1% chance that no candidate would reach 270 electoral votes.
Watchers should also keep in mind that Electoral College members, depending on which state they are from, are not required to vote for the candidate who won their state. Trump beat Hillary Clinton 306 to 232, but seven “faithless electors” cast votes for other candidates, and the final tally was Trump 304, Clinton 227.
Electors will meet this year on Monday, Dec. 14. If no candidate has at least 270 electoral votes after that, the election is decided by the House of Representatives, with each state delegation having one vote. For example, Ohio’s 16 U.S. representatives would cast one vote as a whole and so would Wyoming’s one U.S. representative.
Furthermore, it would be the new House that would decide the president, so members of Congress who won on Tuesday and will take office in January 2021. The AP on Tuesday night called 12 Ohio districts for Republicans and four for Democrats.
The eight uncalled states still have hundreds of thousands of ballots to count as of Wednesday morning, especially early and absentee votes, which have shown to skew Democratic this year. For example, Pennsylvania’s top elections official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, said in a press conference just after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday that the state is approaching 50% of the mailed ballots counted.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday morning that about 100,000 votes in her state have yet to be counted and are primarily concentrated in major population centers like Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint.
“We really want to respect the process of validation of every ballot because we know how important it is to be meticulous and detail-oriented at this very moment,” Benson said in a press conference.
The AP’s dashboard shows the following percentages of the expected votes counted for remaining states as of 1:40 p.m. ET:
- Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes): 64%
- Michigan (16): 96%
- Georgia (16): 94%
- North Carolina (15): 94%
- Wisconsin (10): 95%
- Nevada (6): 67%
- Alaska (3): 45%
- Maine (1 remaining): 85%