Q: Todd, is it possible for neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to get elected president? —Thanks, Scott Smith
A: I like the way you’re thinking, Scott. How cool would it be if neither got elected?
Yes, it is possible, sort of. In order to be elected president, a qualified candidate must receive 270 electoral votes. We use the electoral college system, in which each state is worth so many electoral votes based on population.
Let’s say the Republicans run a third-party candidate against Donald Trump and that third-party candidate takes some votes away from Trump. And let’s say Bernie Sanders decides he isn’t going away and he will run for president, essentially taking votes away from Clinton.
Come election night, you likely will not have a president. What then?
The Constitution has provisions for such things. If no candidate reached 270 electoral votes, the House of Representatives would pick a president among the three candidates who receive the most electoral votes. The Senate would pick the vice president among the two VP candidates receiving the most votes. There are 435 members of the House, and each state delegation has one vote. In Ohio, that would be 16 votes. If the House does not elect a president by Inauguration Day, the Vice President-Elect serves as acting president until the deadlock is resolved in the House.
Q: Every year, my brother-in-law comes to town for our family gathering on the Fourth of July. I detest spending time with him because he acts like the smartest guy in the room. What are some things I can stump him with this year? —Steve from Hartville
A: Steve, you could just tell him you’re not having a get-together this year.
Or you could play nice and occasionaly throw out some Fourth of July myths. Things like: Did you know independence wasn’t actually declared on July 4? It was declared on July 2. The actual document—Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence—was adopted by Congress on July 4. The first independence celebration was held on July 8 in Philadelphia.
Does that mean the delegates signed the declaration on July 4? Nope. Most of them signed it in early August, some later than that.
A: No. This isn’t a baseball game. They’re picking a candidate for president. This is an honest to goodness convention, with meetings and rules and the like.