One thing the debate about the fairness and fidelity of the Electoral College glosses over, however, is what happens if the Electoral College fails to make a decision. What happens if there is no Electoral College Vote winner (270 EC votes or more)? (This potential problem becomes particularly troublesome where there are more than two candidates.)
If there is no EC winner, as is provided in the Constitution, the House votes for president, each state having only one (1) vote; and the Senate votes for the vice-president. Under this arrangement, the House and Senate are not bound by any rules to keep the unified ticket. The House could vote for the Republican and the Senate the Democrat.
The anti-democratic nature of the Electoral College system is amplified if the vote goes to the House. As you can see in the picture below of one possible outcome, the Democrats take 20 of (generally) the more populous states, while the Republicans take 29-30 of the (generally) lesser populated states. If each state gives their one vote to who "won" the plurality, the Republican wins the election, because the votes of New York, California, Pennsylvania and Florida count the same as Wyoming and Montana and Alaska. Is this what a government that derives its "just powers from the consent of the governed" looks like?
And that consent has been thwarted before. In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories.
- Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84.
- Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the (then) majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. Neither candidate did.
- The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.