A coin flip? Draw name from hat? Bizarre ways election results have been decided

Some states have unusual ways to break ties after voting

(AP Photo/Matt York, File) (Matt York, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

With Tuesday’s Georgia runoff election between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker anticipated to be decided by the slimmest of margins, it got us to thinking.

Have there been any ties in previous elections? If so, what were the tiebreaking procedures that decided who won?

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Here are some examples of strange ways elections were decided.

Drawing a piece of paper in Michigan, Virginia

Last month, an election for a spot on the council of Rogers City, Michigan finished in a tie between Timeen Adair and Brittany VanderWall.

So to decide the spot, the two women each drew pieces of paper. Adair drew the one that said “elected,” while VanderWall drew the one that said “not elected.”

According to the Alpena News, after the drawing, VanderWall gave Adair a hug and said, “Do good work. I’ll see you in two years.”

In 2018, a race for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delgates between Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds ended in a tie.

The winner was decided when officials drew Yancey’s name from a ceramic bowl.

Coin flips

When hundreds or thousands of votes can’t decide a winner in an election, evidently there is only one thing left to do in some states: Flip a coin to choose the winner.

That was the case in Alaska, when in 2006, a Democratic primary for a state House seat was decided by a coin toss between Bryce Edgmon and Carl Moses. Edgmon won when the coin fell on tails after Moses called heads.

Last month in Kentucky, three local elections were decided by coin flips, one in Breckinridge County for a Fourth District magistrate, another for a city council seat in Muldraugh, and another that decided the Mayor of Butler.

An endless House vote

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr finished in a tie in the Electoral College vote, and the tiebreaker was supposed to be decided by the House of Representatives.

But the House voted 35 times without either candidate getting a majority. Finally, on the 36th vote, Jefferson was elected.

Potential game of chance to decide race in New Mexico

In 2000, Al Gore beat George W. Bush by 366 votes to win New Mexico in the presidential election, but it would have created a unique scenario if the two had tied.

According to state law, the tiebreaker would have been a game of chance, such as a single hand of poker.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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