3 nightmare scenarios in U.S. presidential race
OHIO, US - Superstorm Sandy was an unexpected nightmare that forced both President Barack Obama and Gov Mitt Romney to cancel some campaign stops in the crucial homestretch. Sandy will not delay the polls, as earlier feared, but its impact on election results remains to be seen.
Campaign veterans cite 3 political scenarios - one more likely than the others - that could delay the results of the November 6 polls.
1. A repeat of Florida 2000
Given the tight race in several swing states, there are fears of a repeat of the nightmare of the 2000 presidential elections when results of the presidential race were still being contested a month after the polls. In the end, the candidate who won the popular vote lost the elections.
Democratic candidate Al Gore won the most number of votes across the US by about half a million votes. But Republican candidate George Bush was declared the winner because he won in the Electoral College. He got a total of 271 electoral votes, only one vote more than the necessary 270 to win. Gore got 266.
The race came down to swing state Florida. Bush won by a mere 537 votes out of about 6 million cast, but the Democratic Party questioned it on grounds of alleged irregularities. A recount was held but the United States Supreme Court, voting 5-4, ruled to stop it, making way for Bush's controversial victory.
Subsequent attempts to reform the electoral system did not gain headway. National Public Radio editor Ron Elving believes that a scenario of Romney winning the popular vote but losing the Electoral College could make both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party open to reforms.
2. Electoral College tie
The Electoral College has total of 538 electoral votes. It's unlikely but possible that both Obama and Romney will get 269 electoral votes each.
In case of a tie, the newly elected members of the House of Representatives will convene to choose the next president. Each state gets one vote. The Senate will choose the vice president. This has sparked curious discussions on a possible scenario of a Republican president with a Democratic vice president, and vice versa.
In an Electoral College, each state is assigned corresponding electoral votes based on its population. In case of a tie, each state will get one vote. Based on current estimates, Romney is going to win the most number of states. Many of these states have small populations and, thus, equivalent to smaller number of electoral votes.
The Electoral College tie already happened albeit a very long time ago, according to Elving.
"We had a tie in the Electoral College in 1800: 65-65. That's how Thomas Jefferson became president. But in those days, the president and vice president always had to be from opposite camps. In the original constitution, the person who gets most votes becomes president. Automatically, you have your opponent as your vice president. It's a shotgun coaltion," Elving said.
3. Provisional ballots in Ohio
Swing state Ohio is getting the most attention in the elections. Gauging from their campaign schedules in the last 3 months, both Obama and Romney recognize the importance of the state's vote.
Obama needs to secure his hold on Midwest US to win his re-election bid. These are the same areas that Romney has been very aggressively trying to steal from Obama to win the elections. For a while, Obama and Romney were statistically tied in surveys in Ohio; latest polls show a very a slim lead for the president.
Ohio is one of the states that has made it easy for voters to cast their votes. The state allows early voting, absentee voting, and provisional voting. The provisional ballots could be a problem because they won't be counted until 10 days after the election.
On voting day on November 6, a ballot is considered provisional for various reasons. One, there are voters who originally asked for absentee ballots. It means they are supposed to have mailed their ballots before November 6. However, it's possible that they will eventually decide not to use their absentee ballots and choose to go to the voting booths on November 6. Their ballots will thus be considered provisional.
Another reason could be confusion over addresses. Voters may have changed addresses and both their original and new addresses are in government files. Their ballots are considered provisional.
In the first case, election officials will have to check that, in fact, there's no double voting. Once verified that a voter did not send his absentee ballot, his election day ballot becomes valid.
In the second case, election officials will have to check that the voters did not vote in their other addresses.
Wait for election night
Voter Glenda Crawford is worried.
"I hope it will be over Tuesday night. I'm afraid it won't be over. I'm afraid the count will be so close that it will go on and on and on. And we will not have a definite answer for some time. I'm worried about that," she told Rappler.
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, dismissed the fears. But Chilicothe City council representative Alicia Gray, also a Democrat, is not so sure.
"It's a scary proposition. It's possible. That's what is going to make or break this election come Wednesday morning," she told Rappler.
"Ohio has been, historically, hard to call. We never know until the election night. We go to bed, when we wake up in the morning, that's when we find out. There's no way to call how Ohio will vote. It's going to be an exciting Tuesday," she said.
It all depends on how close the race is going to be - excluding the provisional ballots.
In the 2000 election, there were about 200,000 provisional ballots. If Obama or Romney leads by more than the number of provisional ballots, there's no reason to worry. - Rappler.com