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Has a presidential election ever ended in a tie?

what happens?
The election of 1800 candidates.

Has a presidential election ever ended in a tie? Yes, but it will never happen again, and here’s why.

The first and only tie in American presidential history occurred in the election of 1800 when Republican Aaron Burr and Republican Thomas Jefferson both received the same amount of electoral votes (73). 

Besides being remarkably rare this outcome posed many issues that were yet to be addressed in the young country’s history. First, how will the President be chosen and why were members of the same political party able to run against each other?

The Constitution mandated that the person who received the most votes would be President and the second most would become Vice President. 

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This presented a clear dilemma because people from different political parties would be forced to work together in the nation’s highest office, potentially causing splits in the government’s unity. 

Back then, the electoral college decided from two candidates who they wanted for President and whoever received the majority of the votes would become the President and the other Vice President. 

The Federalists voted for John Jay as Vice President and John Adams as President, but the Republicans made a critical mistake–instead of the collective majority voting for their prime candidate Thomas Jefferson, they instead equally split the votes between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. 

This caused the two candidates to be caught in a 73 vote-even deadlock. The constitution mandated that in case of ties the President would be chosen by the House of Representatives which at that time was majority-ruled by federalists loyal to Alexander Hamilton. 

Political infighting caused the tie in the Election Of 1800. (michaelbeststrategies)

Since the Federalist front runner, John Adams, was out of the question, the representatives were tasked with choosing between two Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. After a 7-day deadlock, Alexander Hamilton spoke out in support of Thomas Jefferson declaring that “In a choice of Evils let them take the least – Jefferson is in every view less dangerous than Burr.” 

On March 4th, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected as the United States’ third President, and Aaron Burr became the Vice President. The problem was that Jefferson did not like Burr or at the very least distrusted him.

In American politics today the President and the Vice President are almost always people of similar ideas and principles. However, Jefferson and Burr did not share a strong bond and often clashed. The cause was a forced partnership and the inability to choose a compatible running mate.

The Constitution’s presidential selection method was flawed because a candidate could not choose who their running mate was as candidates all ran against each other instead of two people running together like today. 

This was all caused by a miscalculation by the founding fathers. They failed to predict the formation of political parties in the developing country. They did not expect groups of like-minded individuals to fight with other viewpoints. They expected people to work together for the benefit of the country. 

This is the logic by which the Constitution was drafted. In perfect conditions the original system would work if the system was based on the first-place president second second-place vice president, they would unite and lead the country. However, as they soon found out, political affiliations would make their first system obsolete. 

As a result of this incident Congress passed the 12th Amendment on June 15th, 1804, which rewrote the rules for running as vice president and gave the ability to choose your running mate. America lasted through three presidents before the system was changed and Thomas Jefferson was successfully elected to a second term on March 4th, 1805 with the first hand chosen Vice President, George Clinton.

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About the Contributor
Matthew Gemme
Matthew Gemme, Staff Reporter
I am a junior at Sutton. That is all you get.

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