A pivotal Virginia legislative race — and control of the entire House of Delegates — almost came down to the luck of the draw this week. Initially, it seemed as though Democrat Shelly Simonds had won last month’s election by just one vote. Then Republican incumbent David Yancey successfully challenged one ballot, which led to an exact tie. The Virginia State Board of Elections had planned a drawing Wednesday to pick the winner, but Simonds filed a legal challenge against the ballot that had deadlocked the contest. If a court decides to include the ballot in question toward Yancey’s total, the race would remain tied and a drawing would take place after all to determine who wins the Newport News seat. If it’s Simonds, the Virginia House of Delegates would be split 50-50 and Democrats and Republicans would have to share power.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the drawing could involve putting the candidates’ names into film canisters — the small plastic tubes in which 35 mm photo film is sold — and then drawing them from a bowl.
Using games of chance to resolve tied elections may seem like a flippant way of deciding such important contests, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary in many states or localities.