Rogers City Council winner Timeen Adair with Brittany VanderWall

Brittany VanderWall, on left, and Timeen Adair, tied for a post on the Rogers City Council until a drawing determined the winner: Adair.

CHEBOYGAN — A rare tie-breaker for a local election was decided by drawing slips of paper Monday.

Timeen Adair and Brittany VanderWall, candidates for the council of Rogers City each got 616 votes last week. A video captured by the Alpena News showed the moment a winner was finally decided.

All the two candidates had to do was draw a piece of paper that said “elected.” Adair was the one who got the lucky paper.

“Congrats,” VanderWall said after the two unfolded their slips of paper and exchanged a hug. “Do good work. I’ll see you in two years.”

In small local races, when the turnout can come down to a few hundred people, that’s how ties get decided. The population of Rogers City is about 2,900 people.

The practice goes back to a 1954 Michigan Election Law that says, when local races come to a tie, it’s up to chance to decide who gets the seat.

The county clerk ensures that the folded slips look identical. Each candidate then draws a slip from a box, with the one who draws the “elected” slip is deemed legally elected to the office.

Presque Isle County Clerk Ann Marie Main said it happens more than you might think. She recalls overseeing two other tie-breaker drawings for local elections in the county in the last decade.

“The two candidates this time have never sat on the board before and it’s a nonpartisan seat so there’s not really a party side to it,” she said. “So, it was just one of those things.”

Also this year, a school board race in Hartland Township, located in Livingston County, was decided by the same drawing procedure after candidates tied for a seat at 5,264 votes.

Last year in Ingham County, a 150-150 tie vote in the Leslie City Council election also ended by chance.

Main said the drawing is usually a cordial process. Both Adair and VanderWall expressed hopes of leading Rogers City toward growth.

“The other person will graciously congratulate the winner,” she said.

Mike Livingston is a Report for America corps member and Mackinac Straits Bureau reporter covering rural life in northern Michigan. Reach him at michael.livingston@interlochen.org.

Trending Video

Recommended for you