I am curious about the pandemic and voting. I want to know about what if there are multiple states are unable to certify their election results in time. Would this mean that the Electoral College is "tied" and is thus sent to Congress because some states can't send electors?

For example, New York has not yet released the primary results and it has been three weeks so far. If this keeps going on til August we've got problems.

1 Answer 1


A President is elected if (s)he gets a majority of Electors appointed. The figure of 270 Electoral Votes needed to win is based on the assumption that every state appoints all of the Electors to which they are entitled.

If a state does not appoint Electors before the Electoral Votes are formally counted, then the number of Electoral Votes that would be needed for a President to be elected would decrease accordingly. If, for example, New York were not to appoint Electors, a candidate would need 255 Electoral Votes (a majority of 509) to win.

This is what happened in 1864, when the states under Confederate control did not appoint Electors, and two states that had recently returned to US control had their Electors rejected by Congress.

If a state is unable to certify election results, it would be up to the legislature of the state to decide whether to appoint Electors, and if so, on what basis they would be appointed.

  • You should touch on what happens if the EC is unable to come to a consensus; you know, the house voting with 1 vote per state scenario...
    – dandavis
    Jul 20, 2020 at 9:18
  • @dandavis That's a good subject for a different question. The gist I got from this question is whether a failure to nominate Electors makes a contingent election more likely, to which the answer is no.
    – Joe C
    Jul 20, 2020 at 12:29
  • @dandavis the electoral college doesn't have an opportunity to come to a consensus because they meet simultaneously in 51 different places and each state's electoral delegation sends the result of its vote to congress.
    – phoog
    Dec 10, 2020 at 18:37
  • @phoog those delegations meet in DC to vote don't they? when their vote has a majority, that's called a consensus.
    – dandavis
    Dec 10, 2020 at 19:36

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