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Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Good Question: What Happens If They Tie?
By Matt Gephardt
(KUTV) With the presidential election next week, there is a lot of focus on elector math, which raises a Good Question: What if neither President Obama nor Governor Romney gets enough votes to win? And when you ask a Good Question, we give it to Matt Gephardt, who on Fridays finds the good answer.

This question came from a viewer named Jeremy, who brings up a good point. In order for either candidate to win, they have to get 270 Electoral College votes. But it is actually possible for neither candidate to get 270. Then what happens?

At the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, students watch the third and final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. This Tuesday, America will decide which of these men will spend the next four years as President of the United States. Or will they?

To become president, they must first get enough electoral votes. If you’re not familiar with the Electoral College, here’s a quick civics lesson. Each state is assigned a certain number of votes based on the state’s population. Here in Utah, we get six votes. Whichever way the people of Utah vote will determine who gets all six of those electoral votes. To win, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes. But it’s possible that won’t happen.

With every state reporting, it is possible for the race to end in a tie, with each candidate getting only 269 votes. What happens then?

Hinckley Institute President Kirk Jowers says the chances of a tie are slim. “It’s a very unlikely scenario, but realistic. You can go play with the map on a couple different websites and come out with a very realistic 269.”

If each candidate gets 269 votes each, the American people are out, and the US House of Representatives takes over. Each state gets one vote. And if it comes to that, Jowers says Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, would almost certainly win.

“Republicans control the states,” says Jowers. “Even if they lost control of the house in numbers, there is no doubt they would still control the number of states, and so the Republican is in good shape.”

The Electoral College system is not popular. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, only 35% of people in the country like it, compared to 60% that would like the popular vote to decide the next president. So why do we use the Electoral College? It’s in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers never wanted the presidential election to be decided by the people, they wanted it decided by the states. Getting rid of the system would require a constitutional amendment.

If you have a Good Question, send it to or call 801.839.1250.

(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group) Good Question: What Happens If They Tie?

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