Ahead of Election Day in the US, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told National Public Radio (NPR) on Monday that should the presidential election results be disputed, Congress was prepared to wade in and decide the outcome.
In the event that a presidential election does not present a clear winner via the electoral vote, the election of the President is decided in the House of Representatives, with each state delegation having one vote. A majority of states (26) is required to win. The congressional vote to decide the presidency was used twice since the ratification of the 12th Amendment in 1804. The last time it happened was in 1877.
The host, Ari Shapiro, asked the House Speaker to weigh in on a scenario where the vote fails to produce a decisive result, and a court battle unfolds amid a constitutional crisis.
He asked whether the American democratic system was resilient enough to handle a contested election, saying:
“I mean, there are all kinds of scenarios, and in some of them, the Speaker of the House plays a prominent role.”
Pelosi sought to allay the host’s concerns, as she swiftly quipped that the Speaker of the House was “ready for that prominent role”.
“We understand what the law is, and the preeminence of the role of Congress and specifically the House of Representatives when it comes to counting the votes… We’re ready. We’re prepared… We’ve been ready for a while because we see this irresponsibility of the president, his disrespect for the Constitution, for our democracy and for the integrity of our elections. So we’re ready for him,” Pelosi was cited as saying, according to The Hill.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives also said that America was great enough to “survive one term of Donald Trump”, but added:
“Two terms would be such a serious setback that I worry for our country.”
Earlier, a report in Axios on Sunday suggested that President Donald Trump was intending to declare victory on election night if the results indicated that he was in the lead.
On Monday, however, Trump dismissed the report, with his campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh slamming it as "nothing but people trying to create doubt about a Trump victory. When he wins, he's going to say so."
Donald Trump also lambasted the procedure that allowed some states to continue counting ballots beyond Election Day.
"I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over because it can only lead to one thing," Trump said.
Throughout the election campaign, Trump has railed against mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic as a “disaster” that was ripe for fraud.
In response to an Axios report, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was quoted as saying:
"My response is the president is not going to steal this election."
‘Cannot Leave Anything to Chance’
Earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Democrats that they must win the majority, not just of the House of Representatives but a majority of each state delegation, in case the House was called upon to decide the election in January, reported NPR.
As she dwelt on the possible scenario in a letter sent from her campaign email to Democrats in late September, Pelosi urged that finances be directed to shore up campaign funds in battleground districts.
"We cannot leave anything to chance. House Majority PAC is doing everything it can to win more delegations for Democrats. 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."© REUTERS / CARLOS BARRIAU.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport in Avoca, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 2, 2020.
President Donald Trump told his supporters that he wants to avoid the election being decided by the Supreme Court or Congress.
"I don't want to go back to Congress either, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress. It's counted one vote per state. So we actually have an advantage."
Ahead of Election Day, different polls were offering diverse takes on which candidate was leading in which states.
While putting Donald Trump ahead only in Ohio, a Morning Consult poll showed Biden in the lead in the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Arizona.
The FiveThirtyEight.com poll had Trump in the lead in Iowa and Texas, in addition to Ohio, while showing Biden ahead in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Morning Consult predicted Joe Biden victory on 3 November, with a roughly 8 per cent lead over his opponent.
Just a day before the election, US President Donald Trump dismissed opinion poll forecasts, telling his supporters at Fayetteville, North Carolina:
"I watch these fake polls. We're going to win anyway. We are really looking good all over in the real polls.”