When you’re running for public office, Election Day is everything. Once all of the ballots are in, candidates can get a sense of relief that it’s over, even though they may not know whether they won. But sometimes, determining the result of an election is not as simple as just counting ballots. In Lincoln County, Kentucky, two elections were so close that a coin flip was used to decide the outcomes.
In Crab Orchard City, the four-seat race for city commission had a tie for fourth place. Challenger Priscilla Manuel tied incumbent Randall Price with 113 votes. So the decision came down to a coin toss. Manuel got to call, and she chose tails. Unfortunately for her, the coin landed on heads and Price got to keep his seat.
But there was still another fateful coin toss left before the election in Lincoln County was settled. In Stanford, the six-seat city council race ended tied for sixth place with both Peggy Denham Hester and John W. Sallee collecting exactly 377 votes. So again they flipped a coin. Hester called heads, but the coin landed on tails, and as a result, Sallee won the election.
If the candidates had tied for third out of fourth place, for example, one would get third, and the other would get fourth. But when candidates tie for last place, a tiebreaker must occur. Different counties employ different methods to break a tie. Some may draw straws, or pick a number. In Lincoln County, a coin flip is the tie-breaking method on the books.
“It’s just a game of chance at that point,” said Daryl Day, the Lincoln County attorney. “It’s a flip of a coin, something of that nature, something that really nobody has any control over.”
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, everything comes down to chance. Or in the case of Lincoln County elections, things come down to a coin flip. No word on which coin was used for the toss.
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