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No clear result on election day. What happens next?

Record numbers of mail-in and early in-person votes have delayed the US election results as some states didn’t begin counting these votes until polls close on Tuesday.
Fears that Donald Trump will declare an early win and try to invalidate mail-in votes have already come true. He has falsely claimed postal voting will lead to fraud, and refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Joe Biden. That could set off legal and political dramas in which the presidency could be decided by some combination of the courts, state politicians and Congress
Decision goes up to Supreme Court
Early voting data shows more Democrats voted by mail than Republicans. In states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that do not count mail-in ballots until Election Day, booth votes likely favoured Trump, experts say, while mail votes, that are counted more slowly, are expected to favour Biden.
Democrats said Trump could use early leads to declare victory on election night and then claim mail-in ballots are tainted by fraud. Many millions of votes cast early to avoid crowds may not be counted.A close election could result in lawsuits over voting and counting procedures. Cases in states could eventually reach the Supreme Court, as Florida’s results did in 2000, when Republican George W Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore by 537 votes in Florida after the court halted a recount.
US Election Results 2020: Live updates
Trump has pushed the Republican-held Senate to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court justice, which would create a 6-3 conservative majority that could favour the president if the results of a contested election reach the court.
Last week, the court ruled 5-3 against calls by Democrats to reinstate a six-day extension for the receipt of mail ballots in Wisconsin, a hotly contested state that is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases. So, ballots received after Election Day won’t be counted. Although Trump is trailing Biden in national polls, the race is tighter in Wisconsin and other swing states that will determine who wins. In two other pivotal states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the Supreme Court allowed votes to be counted after Election Day.
Conflicting electoral college vote counts
The US president is not elected by a majority of the popular vote. The candidate who wins the majority of 538 electors, known as the Electoral College, becomes the next president. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton but secured 304 electoral votes to her 227.The candidate who wins each state’s popular vote typically earns that state’s electors.
US Elections 2020: Complete coverage
This year, the electors meet on December 14 to cast votes. Both chambers of Congress will meet on January 6 to count the votes and name the winner. Normally, governors certify the results in their respective states and share the information with Congress.
But some academics say the governor and the legislature in a closely contested state could submit two different election results. The battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina all have Democratic governors and Republican controlled legislatures. According to legal experts, it is unclear whether in a dispute, Congress should accept the governor’s electoral slate or not count the state’s electoral votes at all.Under the Electoral Count Act, each chamber of Congress would separately decide which slate of “duelling electors” to accept.
As of now, Republicans hold the Senate while Democrats control the House of Representatives, but the electoral count will be conducted by the new Congress, which will be sworn in on January 3.If the two chambers disagree, it’s not clear what would happen. The parties could ask the Supreme Court to resolve any congressional stalemate. But the Electoral Count Act has never been tested or interpreted by the courts.
House of Representatives chooses the next president
Neither candidate securing a majority of Electoral College votes would trigger a “contingent election” under the 12th Amendment of the Constitution. That means the House of Representatives chooses the next president, while the Senate selects the vice president, which increases the pressure on each party to gain seats in both chambers.
Each state delegation, consisting of all elected representatives from that state, in the House gets a single vote. As of now, Republicans control 26 of the 50 state delegations, while Democrats have 22; Pennsylvania is split evenly and Michigan has seven Democrats, six Republicans and a Libertarian. If the decision falls to the House, the current composition will see the Republicans’ presidential pick win. Democrats will have to flip key seats to control a majority of state delegations. New members of the House and Senate could change who controls the delegations.
In many states, the delegation majority is slim. Florida’s Republican-controlled delegation split 14-13 while Colorado’s Democrat-controlled delegation is now at 4-3. Single-member delegations like Montana and Alaska, held by Republicans, have small chances of flipping, while two-member delegations, like New Hampshire and Maine, could be tied if one member flips.
In the Senate, though, members will cast their votes individually and the vice president will be chosen by a simple majority. The Senate is currently controlled by the Republicans but could still flip to the Democrats with 22 Republican and 12 Democratic seats at stake in this election.
A contingent election also takes place in the event of a 269-269 tie after the election; there are several plausible paths to a deadlock in 2020.Any election dispute in Congress would play out ahead of a strict deadline — January 20, when the Constitution mandates that the term of the current president ends. Under the Presidential Succession Act, if Congress still has not declared a presidential or vice presidential winner by then, the Speaker of the House would serve as acting president. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, is the current speaker.

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