National: The 130-Year-Old Law That Could Determine Our Next President | Edward Foley/Politico
Political junkies and history buffs have spent weeks dreaming about the unlikeliest possible scenarios that could determine the 2016 election: contested conventions, third-party bids, a cross-party ticket. But here’s one prospect they probably haven’t thought of: There’s a legally sound scenario in which John Kasich could single-handedly pick the next U.S. president. And it’s all thanks to a federal law that’s been on the books since 1887. It’s a far-fetched outcome, to be sure, but here’s how that could happen—and why Congress should consider revising that 130-year-old law. It starts with a serious ballot dispute in November, something like the contested results in Florida during the 2000 election—the odds of which aren’t trivial. Setting aside the very real prospect of a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump nail-biter, the risk of a recount and related litigation is higher than it was in the past, thanks to a greater number of absentee and provisional ballots, which often get counted after Election Day. In this situation, the Supreme Court could step in to resolve the dispute. But the odds of that happening have probably decreased due to the vociferous criticism of the Bush v. Gore decision. Not to mention that in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, there could still be only eight sitting justices in November; that also makes it more likely the court will stay out of the matter this time.