Which mood are you in tonight? There are only three now, according to Hazel Cills, Jezebel’s resident existential dread expert: “Lobotomy please,” “Asteroid take me now,” and “I hope I get abducted by aliens.”
Personally, after reading this report about how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has begun preparing for the possibility that there is no definitive 2020 election result at the polls in November, I’m “lobotomy please.” But in the event that it actually happens, I may very well be “asteroid take me now,” or the festive, secret-menu option: “walk into the sea.”
If the outcome of the election is still unclear come January 6—the date Congress has to certify the Electoral College’s vote under the Constitution—it’s for the House of Representatives to decide. In this situation, each state is permitted just one vote, and that vote goes to the party that has the most members of Congress from that state. That makes it all the more urgent that the House hold onto its majority, which is exactly what Pelosi stressed to her colleagues in a recent letter outlining the possible scenario.
“We cannot leave anything to chance,” Pelosi wrote in the letter. “It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen.”
The last time Congress was left to decide the winner of a presidential election was in 1877, making it rather unlikely that it will come to this. But Trump has made it clear that he may not accept the election results, and has so far done everything in his power to make sure his acolytes are ready to contest them, should things not go his way.
Most of us have already braced ourselves for what’s to come in the final stretch of the 2020 race: vicious smear campaigns, ridiculous insults, an October surprise. But it’s worth remembering that there’s a chance that the outcome of the election may not be settled for weeks and maybe even months after—it’s worth remembering that this *gestures broadly* could get so much worse.