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Pelosi Prepares for No-Decision

To guarantee presidential victory, speaker says Democrats need a majority of seats per state
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2020 7:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Here's another possibility should the outcome of the presidential election be in dispute long after Nov. 3: the House deciding the winner. It hasn't happened since 1877, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has addressed that scenario in a letter to Democrats, NPR reports. "We cannot leave anything to chance," Pelosi wrote, adding, "It's sad we have to have to plan this way, but it's what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen." If a winner isn't established by Jan. 6, when the Electoral College totals are to be certified, the House takes over. It's a winner-take-all process by state. Each state has one vote; whichever party has more members in its House delegation will be decide the state's vote. Much like in the Electoral College, Democrats wouldn't control the election just because they have more House members overall. Republicans now have a majority in 26 state delegations; Democrats control 23, per the Hill. and Pennsylvania's is an even split. The newly elected House would make the decision.

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Pelosi said President Trump said something over the weekend that caused her to raise the issue. He doesn't want the Supreme Court of Congress to decide the election, Trump told a rally, "even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress." In an interview Monday, Pelosi said: "I've been working on this for a while, I've been working on almost every scheme he might have to steal the election." She asked her members to move campaign money to the House Majority PAC, to help it target races with the goal of winning control of state delegations in November. If it's still controlled by Democrats after the election, the House could refuse to seat any member whose own election is contested, per Politico. The 1876 election process did go on, with an independent commission—which voted along party lines—giving all ballots that were in dispute to Rutherford B. Hayes, who had lost in the Electoral College and popular vote in the first count. The commission's decision gave him the presidency by one electoral vote, per the House archives. (Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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