If no Vice Presidential candidate gets a majority of votes in the Electoral College, a Contingent Election will be held in the Senate to elect a new VP.

Normally, if a vote in the Senate is tied, then the VP (as President of the Senate) casts a tie-breaking vote. However, if the incumbent VP is also a candidate in a contingent election, this can be seen as a conflict of interest.

Is there anything in the US Constitution, US Code, Rules of the Senate, or elsewhere, that would require the VP to recuse him/herself from such a vote? Or would (s)he be able to vote regardless?


1 Answer 1


You currently need 51 senators: a majority of the whole number of senators period. This has never been tested though, so we don't have a concrete precedence or procedure to say with 100% certainty. The text, to me, seems clear though:

12th amendment

the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.

According to wikipedia

"The explicit constitutional language about election by a majority of the whole number of senators may preclude the sitting vice president from breaking any tie which might occur, although some academics and journalists have speculated to the contrary."

  • That seems pretty clear that 50-50 is a loss and not a tie.
    – Joe W
    Jul 21, 2020 at 21:48
  • @JoeW A loss for who? Someone has to win.
    – Daniel
    Nov 6, 2020 at 15:08
  • 2
    @Daniel What I mean by that is if the vote is 50-50 there is no winner and they have to keep voting until it is 51-49.
    – Joe W
    Nov 6, 2020 at 15:24
  • 1
    Or until the President takes office and nominates a new VP to fill the open position (subject to Senate confirmation, which could end up back in the same spot).
    – Bobson
    Nov 6, 2020 at 15:59

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