With sleeves rolled up, Adams County Clerk Stan Martin turned his head to the side and reached blindly into a glass bowl to fish out the name of the person who will occupy the lone vacant seat on the Northglenn City Council. “The winner is … congratulations to Joyce Downing,” Martin declared, reading the name from the card he had plucked from the bowl. This seemingly archaic ceremony, held inside the Adams County commissioners’ hearing room Tuesday afternoon, is in keeping with the way tied elections for public office are settled in Colorado. This year, Northglenn had one of three candidate races statewide that resulted in a tie — even after a mandatory recount — and triggered the need to determine a winner “by lot,” as stipulated in state election law.
The other two deadlocked Nov. 7 showdowns were the Julesburg School District RE-1 board of education race, where two candidates landed in a 225-225 logjam, and the Cripple Creek City Council race, where the two hopefuls running for the Ward 5 seat garnered 63 votes apiece.
While state statutes require a chance drawing to determine a winner if a recount doesn’t clear up the matter, it doesn’t prescribe which method a community must use to break a tie — be it a coin flip, a name in a hat or even a high-card draw.