According to the Constitution, the election had to be decided in the House of Representatives. And as the Constitution, at that time, made no distinction between those running for president and vice president, Burr, though he had been Jefferson's running mate, suddenly had a very good chance of being elected president.
In the Capitol building, which was still under construction, the House of Representatives began holding a special election in February 1801. The voting went on for days, with dozens of ballots being cast before the deadlock was broken. Jefferson was finally declared the winner, and Burr became the vice president.
The incident led to the drafting and ratification of the Twelfth Amendment. Under the new amendment, which became the law of the land in 1804, the House of Representatives, if the electoral college could not select a winner, would vote for the president by a procedure in which state delegation would have one vote. And, the U.S. Senate would vote for the vice president.
So in the hypothetical scenario being discussed currently, a tied electoral college would probably mean that the Republican dominated House of Representatives would vote for a President Romney, and the Democrats, holding the majority in the Senate, would vote for a Vice President Biden. So, in a peculiar outcome to an electoral college tie, the nation would wind up with a Romney/Biden administration.
More detail: The Election of 1800
Illustration: Aaron Burr, who nearly became president following a tie in the electoral college/courtesy New York Public Library Digital Collections
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