Virginia: Lawmakers propose runoff elections, not bowls and film canisters, as new way to break ties | Richmond Times-Dispatch

When Dawnn Wallace learned that the election in her Newport News House of Delegates district would be decided by drawing a name from a bowl, she was “flabbergasted” to learn that was the state’s process for breaking ties. Wallace said she was among the 23,216 people who voted in the 94th House District race last year, only to see the outcome decided by pure luck when a recount showed Republican Del. David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds both finishing with 11,608 votes. “I can tell you that nobody would want a football game decided by a coin flip. Or a basketball game decided by a jump ball. Or a hockey game decided by which team had the most teeth knocked out at the end of the game,” Wallace said. “If the game is tied at the end of regulation, it goes into overtime.” Wallace joined Del. Marcia S. Price, D-Newport News, Wednesday at the Capitol as Price announced she’ll push to change state law so that elections are decided via the political equivalent of overtime: runoff elections.

Virginia: Republican Wins Election After His Name Is Drawn From a Bowl | Bloomberg

By luck of the draw, incumbent Republican David Yancey won a Virginia state House of Delegates race so close that its outcome was determined Thursday when an elections official pulled his name out of a ceramic bowl. The drawing of lots happened after the race between Yancey and Democratic challenger Shelley Simonds ended in tie. The win allows Republicans to maintain a slim majority in the House, though a final tally is still uncertain because Simonds could ask for another recount. Adding another wrinkle: Another close legislative race is in doubt because it’s locked in a court battle. The drawing drew a large, if lopsided, crowd to the Virginia elections board meeting. Many of the people packed into the room were either reporters or Simonds’ supporters. Yancey did not attend but did have a few GOP staffers there to watch.

Virginia: Tiebreaker Drawing Is Back On. But It May Not Settle House Race. | The New York Times

Virginia’s on-again, off-again drawing to break a tie in a state House race is back on, with the winner’s name to be ceremoniously plucked from a bowl on Thursday in Richmond. But the drawing, the latest chapter in an election melodrama that has drawn wide attention, may fail to bring finality, since the loser can request a recount — which would be the second recount of the original vote. At 11 a.m. in a building named for Patrick Henry, adjacent to the State Capitol, Virginia’s Board of Elections plans to chose the winner of House District 94 “by lot,’’ as state law specifies. The proceedings will be live-streamed. The only thing that might intervene is a winter storm headed for the Mid-Atlantic states, James Alcorn, the chairman of the elections board, said on Twitter.

Virginia: Recount court denies Democrat’s request, leaving critical House race a tie | The Washington Post

The winner of a pivotal Virginia legislative race will be decided by lottery Thursday, one day after a recount court rejected a request to toss out a disputed ballot that brought the contest to a tie. In a race full of unexpected twists, the State Board of Elections is set to break the tie by randomly selecting the name of either Republican incumbent David E. Yancey or Democrat Shelly Simonds from a stoneware bowl fashioned by a Virginia artist. The spectacle, expected to be watched via live stream around the country, could break the GOP’s 18-year hold on the House of Delegates. But even if Simonds wins the drawing — splitting the 100-member chamber right down the middle — odds are the GOP will retain control on day one of the 2018 General Assembly session, when crucial votes for speaker and rules take place.

Virginia: In race critical to House control, GOP urges judges to stick by disputed ballot ruling | The Washington Post

Republicans on Friday asked a three-judge panel in Virginia to stick by its decision to count a disputed ballot in a squeaker legislative race, a ruling that threw the contest — and control of the House of Delegates — into limbo. House Republicans were responding to a motion Democrats had filed Wednesday, asking a recount court to reverse itself and declare Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds the winner over Del. David E. Yancey (Newport News) by a margin of one vote. A win by Simonds would split the 100-seat House down the middle, forcing a rare power-sharing arrangement on a chamber that Republicans have controlled for 17 years.

National: Luck Of The Draw? Games Of Chance Not Uncommon In Deciding Tied Elections | NPR

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.

Virginia: Voting Mess Was Never Supposed to Happen After Bush v. Gore | The New York Times

It was the electoral nightmare Virginia never wanted to experience: being host to a high-profile mess like the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, with officials obsessing over questionable ballots as political power hangs in the balance. So 17 years ago, the state began writing a guidebook on how to handle such situations. The latest edition includes pictographs of ballots marked in unconventional ways — names crossed out, several boxes checked, “My guy” scrawled over a candidate’s name. Despite the best intentions to avoid a Florida-style snafu, that is where Virginia now finds itself, with lawyers fighting over how to interpret one questionable ballot. And at stake is possible control of the Legislature.

Virginia: Officials postpone lottery drawing to decide tied statehouse election | Reuters

A lottery drawing to settle a tied Virginia legislative race that could shift the statehouse balance of power has been indefinitely postponed, state election officials said on Tuesday, after the Democratic candidate mounted a legal fight. The decision to put off the high-stakes lotto, originally scheduled for Wednesday, marks the latest twist in a dramatic election recount that at one point showed Democrat Shelly Simonds beating Republican incumbent David Yancey by a single vote. A victory by Simonds would shift Republicans’ slim control of the 100-member House of Delegates to an even 50-50 split with the Democrats, forcing the two parties into a rare power-sharing arrangement.

National: In an election, tie goes to … | Daily Press

When Athenians came up with the idea of democracy 2,500 years ago, they figured the best way to be sure that the people, and not a tyrant, ruled was to pick their Council of 500 by lot — basically, the way the next member of the House of Delegates the 94th district could be selected. And the way control of the nation’s oldest legislature, the Virginia House of Delegates, will be decided. While Americans don’t normally chose officials this way, it’s not unknown when an election ends in a tie. As it did in six races — school boards, county commissioners and city councils — in Colorado this year. The winners in those cases were drawn by lot, as Colorado law dictates — pretty much echoing Virginia’s with pretty much the same lack of detail about the method.

Virginia: Tied Race That Was Headed for Name-Drawing Gets Another Twist | The New York Times

A race that would tip control of Virginia’s House of Delegates, whose constant and nearly comic pendulums between candidates has attracted national attention, took one more twist on Tuesday when a drawing to break a tie was unexpectedly postponed. The Virginia State Board of Elections announced it would delay a drawing of lots after receiving a letter from lawyers for the Democratic candidate, Shelly Simonds, that she was legally fighting the ruling of a recount court last week. The election board’s one-line announcement, on Twitter, came just hours after an announcement that there would be a live video stream of the drawing, which was to be held adjacent to the State Capitol, in response to the huge interest in the race beyond Virginia.

National: In Tied U.S. Elections, Chance, Not Voters, Often Decides Final Outcome | Reuters

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.”

Virginia: Officials will randomly pick winner of tied House of Delegates race | The Virginian-Pilot

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, Dec. 27. That’s the day the Virginia Board of Elections will randomly pick the winner of the high-stakes and tied 94th House District race. The impact? Control of the House of Delegates – and major policy decisions. After a recount and a court battle over one irregular, uncounted ballot, Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, and Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds each have 11,608 votes. The winner will be determined by “drawing lots.”

National: The 2014 Elections That Ended In A Tie | FiveThirtyEight

Election Day was a month ago, but the winners of many races are still being decided, and not just by recounts or runoff elections such as Saturday’s Senate runoff in Louisiana. There are a handful of elections across the country that ended in a tie, in which the winner has been decided by drawing lots, flipping coins or other games of chance. With hundreds of seats in Congress, thousands of seats in state legislatures, and tens of thousands of mayor, city council, county judge and local dog catcher elections being regularly held, it’s almost certain that each year some will end up tied. But because tied elections are so rare for any given office, most state and local election boards do not lay out guidelines for resolving them. In many states, the law indicates that ties should be broken by a “game of chance,” but details are rarely specified. This can create interesting tiebreakers.

Mississippi: Tied election down to one voter’s ID or drawing straws | Clarion-Ledger

Unless a lone affidavit voter shows up with a valid photo ID before next Tuesday, Glenn Bolin and Stephanie Bounds will draw straws to see who becomes Poplarville alderman. In a special election runoff Tuesday, Bolin and Bounds each received 177 votes. But one voter showed up at the polls without a photo ID, as now required by law in Mississippi, and voted affidavit. That voter has five business days to bring in a valid ID, and could determine the election. “They won’t tell us who it is,” Bolin said Wednesday. “My thinking is that person is not going to come in, because they don’t want all the attention of being the one vote … We were told last night that after five days, we’ll draw straws.”

National: In most states, tied elections can be decided by a coin toss | The Washington Post

A New Mexico election for a judge was decided Tuesday by coin toss after the two candidates tied in the primary race. Kenneth Howard Jr. and Robert Baca, both Democrats, received 2,879 votes in their June 3 primary in McKinley County, the Gallup Independent reported. According to New Mexico law, tie breakers are to be decided by lot. Howard won the coin toss, which was done by a Democratic official, and because there was no Republican opponent for the job, he will become the northwestern New Mexico county’s newest magistrate  judge.  New Mexico is one of 35 states that determines tied elections by a coin toss or some other means of chance, according to state constitutions, statues, and election legislation reviewed by The Washington Post.