by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the possibility that she might become acting president if neither President Trump nor Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins enough electoral votes to declare victory in the election on or after Nov. 3.
Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters Thursday that she is preparing House Democrats for a potential role in determining the winner with a vote by each state delegation.
But if a majority still does not emerge for either Trump or Biden, Pelosi said, “then it goes into another range where the speaker becomes the [president]. It’s complicated after that.”
It is rare for the House to play a role in determining the outcome of a presidential election, and it hasn’t happened in 150 years. But Pelosi is girding party lawmakers to play a role if the election is so close that neither Trump nor Biden is the electoral winner.
In such a scenario, each House state delegation would cast one vote for president, depending on the majority party in each delegation.
Pelosi said she is aiming for Democrats to be able to cast at least 26 votes, a bare majority, which would hand the White House to Biden.
The Senate, meanwhile, would be empowered with voting to determine the vice president.
But if the House delegation results in a 25-25 tie and the Senate can’t agree on a vice presidential winner, Pelosi would become acting president, according to the 1947 Presidential Succession Act.
Republicans currently have the advantage in state delegations, and last month, Pelosi wrote to Democrats and urged the party to focus on flipping seats with Nov. 3 wins in Alaska and Montana, which now have GOP majorities. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s delegation is split 9-9, so picking up a seat in November could give the Democrats an edge.