New Presidential Tiebreaker?

Posted October 21, 2008 at 11:58am

Saying there are “many scenarios” under which presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) could each attain 269 electoral votes on Nov. 4, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called for amending the Constitution to change the way votes are tallied in the event of a tie.

Currently under the Constitution, the House is charged with electing the next president if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes. Under this scenario, each state casts one vote. But under the Constitutional amendment introduced by Sherman, each lawmaker would get a vote — a change that he says would ensure large states like California and New York are fairly represented.

“The current system gives citizens of Alaska, Delaware and other states with small populations 50 or even 60 times as much representation as Californians,” Sherman said. “That is fundamentally unfair.”

Noting that the last two presidential elections “came very close” to ending in a tie, Sherman warned that people need to be prepared for the possibility that the House could decide the outcome of the 2008 election. The last time lawmakers were forced to cast the deciding vote was 1824.

A Constitutional amendment can’t pass in time for this year’s election, but lawmakers “should act well before 2012,” Sherman said.