How Many Times Has The House Chosen The President? Hillary Clinton Definitely Shouldn't Count On This Rarity

In the rare case of a deadlock election following the official casting of the electoral votes, the presidential decision would immediately go to the House of Representatives. This begs the query of what exactly that would entail, and how many times has the House chosen the president. While we wait for the Electoral College to cast their official votes on Dec. 19, many of us are (or at least I am) holding out a sliver of hope that some electors will opt to go faithless and potentially shift the results.

However, in the rare and unlikely case that we have enough faithless electors casting protest votes to shift the Electoral College to a historic deadlock election, it would hand the final tie-breaking presidential decision to the House of Representatives. Then, each State delegation would be allotted one vote.

There have only been two instances in the history of U.S. presidential elections where the House has picked the president. The first was during the presidential election of 1800, in which Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson fought it out to become the leader of the young nation. When the electoral votes were counted, the two Democratic-Republican candidates came out exactly tied. The final decision of the contested election was then handed over to the House of Representatives, who cast their ballots to officially elect Jefferson as president.

The second time the House chose the president was during the contentious 1824 election. After none of the four presidential candidates received a large enough majority, or over 50 percent of electoral votes, the presidential decision was handed to Congress. It took until Feb. 9, 1825 for the final decision to be made. John Quincy Adams was announced as president, much to the chagrin of Andrew Jackson and his supporters.


It's unlikely that our current election will become the third on this list, because it would require a historically significant enough amount of faithless electors to tie Clinton's votes with Trump. Even if such a scenario occurred, Trump would still likely become the next presidents. That's because the House majority is currently Republican, so it would almost certainly back him.

Still, in an election that has had a stunning amount of surprises, it is hard to consider any scenario completely off the table.