The second spot in Denison’s upcoming runoff election for the Place 6 City Council seat may be determined by the flip of a coin. This comes after the final results for Saturday’s election ended in a tie for second place; no candidate receiving the more than 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
Once the final votes were counted Monday afternoon, candidates Rayce Guess and Brian Hander both had received 219 votes, putting both in second place behind Charles Shearer, who receives 253 votes.
“The city of Denison requires that a candidate be elected by majority vote,” Grayson County Elections Administrator Deana Patterson said Monday in an email. “There is not a candidate that received a majority vote in their race and there is a tie for second place.”
Due to recent state legislation, votes that are received by mail the day after an election must be counted toward the final result. When votes were counted Saturday, Hander was behind Guess by just two votes; Guess had 218 votes.
Patterson said this is the first time she has seen an election result in a tie while working with Grayson County. The tie will trigger an automatic recount, which is required by the election code. If the recount still results in a tie, Patterson said the code requires that candidates “draw lots” in order to determine the winner. However, the code is vague on what form the drawing will take place in.
“It is not very specific, but the city of Denison will handle it,” she said, adding that other cities have settled a tie with a coin toss.
The automatic recount will be held next Tuesday, following the canvassing of the vote by the city of Denison, Patterson said. With the modern voting systems, Patterson said there is an extremely high probability it will still remain a tie following the recount.
“There are so many checks and balances built in that we expect it will still end in a tie,” she said.
Meanwhile, Hander, who was behind when initial votes were cast Saturday, said he did not know what to think about Monday’s results.
“I would say it is all a shock — a good shock — but still a shock,” he said.
While researching how other cities have previously resolved a tie, Hander said he saw where some cities would roll a dice or draw numbers out of a hat.
Even if he ultimately does not make it to the runoff, Hander said he is excited to be a part of a new precedent set in the city of Denison. Hander also expressed surprise at the number of votes that were cast by mail, noting that all five candidates in the race gained votes Monday.
Guess said he is honored to be in the election and to have the chance to serve the city and its residents. As a former history teacher, Guess said he found being a part of a first for the community to be interest.
“I wouldn’t call it exciting,” he said, with a laugh. “I obviously would prefer to be the winner.”
Guess expressed some concern on how the election might ultimately be determined. In the modern era, he said there should be a better way to choose the winner.
“I would think there would be a more definitive measure than that,” he said.
Despite the being safely in first, Shearer said he is uncertain how to move forward, noting that his future course will depend on who he is facing.
“It would stink if you spent all that time campaigning and it came down to the flip of a coin,” he said.
The race for Place 6, started in January when Janet Gott, who held the seat at the time, resigned in order to run for mayor of Denison, following the end of Jared Johnson’s tenure. As the place is at large, it represents the entire city and is not limited to a specific geographic area. This lead to five candidates running in the election.