December 9, 2000
3:37 PM   Subscribe

Ain't gonna be no link here, but just a comment. Other deadlines may slip, but Florida has to settle things by Monday, December 18, or they don't get to participate in this election. Inside is an analysis of what happens then.
posted by Steven Den Beste (11 comments total)
On the first Monday following the second Wednesday of December (in other words, on December 18) the electors of each state must meet, record their votes, seal them, and begin the process of delivering them to the "President of the Senate" otherwise known as the Vice President of the United States, name of Albert Gore, Jr.

On January 3, the new Congress is sworn in. On January 6, Al Gore opens all the envelopes and counts the votes in the presence of both the new House and new Senate. (His term doesn't end until January 20.)

If Florida doesn't have it together December 18, then no candidate has a majority, and the President will be picked by the new House and the VP by the new Senate.

Now the rules are different for each. In the House, each state caucus votes amongst themselves for how their own single state vote shall be cast. Making the assumption that it goes strictly party line, I just proved that I have too much time on my hands by counting up the D/R/I split among the state caucuses in the new House, and the Republicans dominate 28 (including Gore's home state of Tennessee!), the Democrats 17 (including Texas!), 4 are tied, and Vermont is represented by a single Representative who is Independent. So Bush pretty much wins.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Lieberman is sworn in (since he was elected) and participates in the process of choosing a VP. With him, the Senate splits 50:50 -- and Al Gore casts the tie breaking vote. So Lieberman probably gets to be VP.
(On January 20, he would then resign his seat in the Senate so he could be sworn in as VP.)

I think it's been more than 150 years since the President and VP were from different parties. More important, though, is that it means the Democrats would have the effective hair-thin majority in the Senate because the VP would be a Democrat irrespective of who the President is.

Wouldn't that be weird?

All I have to say is: Florida, get your asses in gear!
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:49 PM on December 9, 2000

Actually, a Democratic majority in the Senate would depend on who was appointed to replace Lieberman, and I believe I read that his governer is Republican. So maybe the Democrats don't get a majority -- until Jesse Helms keels over and is replaced by a Democrat.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:54 PM on December 9, 2000

Same applies with Strom Thurmond, who's meant to be too ill to attend the Senate right now.

But Steven: Florida doesn't have to deliver them to DC by the 18th. They can deliver them late, but that makes them subject to challenge by any member of Congress. At which point, the two houses divide, and if there's a conflict of opinion (likely, given a Rep House and a 50/50 Senate with a Gore tying vote) the slate certified by the executive is chosen. (3 USC)

Hawaii delivered a late slate in 1960, but it wasn't challenged in Congress, because the electoral votes couldn't change the outcome of the election.
posted by holgate at 4:39 PM on December 9, 2000

And for luke: the relevant section of the US Code.
posted by holgate at 4:41 PM on December 9, 2000

i could be wrong, but i believe that the candidate needs to win only a majority of the electors present, not of the electors possible, so if florida sends none, gore wins.
posted by palegirl at 5:35 PM on December 9, 2000

Steven: A Geocities page. Blogger. These things are free, you know. ;)
posted by solistrato at 6:16 PM on December 9, 2000

Bush/Liberman? That doesn't sound that bad. One thing is for sure: it would be interesting to see how that would work out.
posted by Witold at 9:28 PM on December 9, 2000

We did the mixed P/VP thing for the first 30-odd years, anyway.

I think some of the above analysis is flawed. For one thing, the GOP would argue that Florida already has a certified slate of electors, and that any attempt to imply otherwise is akin to high treason, or at least unforgivable liberal (media) bias. Another part that Steven skipped over was the point where the state's governor is forced to choose between two slates if the two houses of Congress cannot agree (yes, that's Jebbie). And the state-by-state election, as I understood it, would only take place if there were no majority in electoral votes. For that to happen, certain electors would need to vote for (say) Nader, McCain, or somebody like that. But under any scenario I can see, there will always be a majority for either Shrub or Al. (All counted, Bush for Florida, Bush wins. All counted, Florida to Gore, Gore wins. All but Florida counted, Gore wins.) Unless Steven wants to argue that less Florida, there is no majority -- and I suppose that the Bush camp might have to argue that point along the way.
posted by dhartung at 10:01 AM on December 10, 2000

palegirl: what's required by the Constitution is a majority of the electors "appointed", and the meaning of that is arguable. That's probably the real reason the FL Legislature is so hot to appoint Bush's electors - once that's done, Gore can't win without FL.
posted by nicwolff at 12:57 PM on December 10, 2000

If Florida doesn't have it together December 18, then no candidate has a majority, and the President will be picked by the new House and the VP by the new Senate.

I don't read the clause the same way you do, Steven. I read it the way someone else posted about it last month; if the Florida electors don't show up, the definition of "majority" changes, and Gore would win in that case.

*Now*, we get into the *actual* legalities of the Florida Legislature appointing electors. I suspect there may be a conflict between US Constitutional or Code law and the Florida Constitution, but I haven't looked -- I've heard arguments on both sides.
posted by baylink at 7:54 PM on December 11, 2000

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