After months of campaigning, Melissa Trenary’s election last month to the city council in Colorado’s historic mining town of Cripple Creek came down to the luck of the draw – literally. Trenary and her opponent, Jeff Regester, were deadlocked at 63 votes apiece after a recount, leaving officials to determine the race randomly “by lot” under state law. Each candidate drew one playing card from a freshly shuffled deck, with Trenary pulling the 10 of diamonds and Regester the seven of clubs – giving Trenary the high card and the victory. “I just about fainted,” said Trenary, 50, who works at a local casino. “I started shaking and I started crying – I was just so happy.”
A random drawing to decide tied elections is a little known tradition of American democracy. Next week, the process will determine control of the Virginia House of Delegates, after a recount and court battle left Republican incumbent lawmaker David Yancey and Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds tied at 11,608 votes each.
Republicans hold a 50-49 advantage in the 100-seat chamber, and a Simonds victory would force a power-sharing arrangement between the parties.