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VERIFY: Yes, presidential candidates only need 270 electoral votes to win

With key battleground states down to the wire for electoral college votes, many are wondering what happens if a candidate hits 270 exactly.

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and Joe Biden are in a tight race for the 2020 presidential election, with several key battleground states still counting ballots before electoral votes are granted. 

With battleground states pulling heavier electoral weight in the final hours, like those already called in Michigan and Wisconsin, the field for a favored candidate grows tighter. 

Candidates need at least 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. But what happens in a situation where they get exactly 270 votes?

Let's Verify.

QUESTION: If a candidate gets exactly 270 electoral votes, will they still win the presidency?



The U.S. Constitution 


Across all 50 states and DC, there's a total of 538 electoral votes in action. Each state receives its number of electoral votes based on population, but every state has at least 3. Why 270? Well, that's the number needed for a simple majority to win.

It doesn't matter if a candidate receives exactly 270 electoral votes or more than 270 -- all that matters is that you hit that benchmark. 

So yes, if a candidate hits 270 on the button, they win. If Democratic nominee Joe Biden -- who was reported by the Associated Press to have 264 electoral votes as of late Wednesday -- grabs a state like Nevada, with six additional votes, that would give him exactly 270 votes, securing the presidency. 

Trump does not have a path to reach the exact number of 270, but with states like Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania still in play, he could exceed it.

There’s no scenario for this in the current election, but in a case where neither candidate reaches 270, then the U.S. House of Representatives determines the president. 

The Senate determines the vice presidency via a simple majority vote of all 100 senators. 

Regardless, even if states are "called" for projected wins, they won't be official right away. Electors will not officially cast their ballots until Dec.14, with Congress meeting to accept and count those votes until Jan. 6.

What would it take for the Electoral College to be eliminated?

The Electoral College was originally born back at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. But what would eliminating the Electoral College all together look like?

This would require a constitutional amendment -- which would need a ⅔ vote from Congress, and ¾ approval from states.

 Eric Heberlig, a professor at UNC Charlotte, said the last time this happened was when the 27th amendment was ratified back in 1992. He said it would require a lot of coordination from both the states and a divided Congress to see an amendment ratified, which isn't likely.

So we can VERIFY, it is possible to eliminate the Electoral College, but it wouldn’t be easy.

RELATED: VERIFY: Fact-checking Election Day claims and rumors

RELATED: VERIFY: Why we vote, despite the Electoral College's role in determining the president

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