Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
Grayson County election officials confirmed a tie vote Tuesday after a recount of Denison’s special election for the Place 6 city council seat. The automatic recount of the votes affirmed both Rayce “Coach” Guess and Brian Hander tied for second place.
When voters in Denison went to the polls of May 5, both Hander and Guess received 219 votes, putting both in second place behind Charles Shearer, who received 253 votes and will go on to the June 16 runoff election. However, Shearer’s opponent in the runoff remained uncertain due to the tie.
“The tie between candidates Brian Hander and Rayce 'Coach' Guess was not resolved by the automatic recount,” the city said in a press release Tuesday. “Therefore, the tied candidates will cast lots to determine which of the two tied candidates will be the runoff candidate with Charles D. Shearer on the runoff election to be held on Saturday, June 16, 2018 in the city of Denison, Texas.”
City Clerk Chris Wallentine said the tie will officially be settled Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. with the casting of lots. Wallentine said this is a historic moment for the city as it is the first time there has been a runoff election and the first time the city has had to use the tie breaker provision in Texas election code.
“It is exciting right now with the tie,” Wallentine said. “However, we will break it sometime tomorrow.”
While Texas election code calls for the casting of lots to determine the second place winner, the code does not specify how the lots should be cast. In the past, this has led cities to use various methods, including flipping a coin, or drawing names from a hat to decide the winner of a tied race.
Wallentine said the city is offering two options to solve the tie — the flip of a coin or a roll of the dice. Wallentine said on Wednesday the city will ask the candidates to agree on a method for resolving the tie. If an agreement can’t be made, Denison officials will decide which method is used by drawing it from a hat.
In the event that the coin toss is used, Wallentine said the city would draw to see which candidate will call the coin in the air. In both cases, the dice or coin will be provided by the city, Wallentine said.
Guess, who was present for the recount Tuesday, said it was exciting to be a part of a historic moment for Denison. Despite the tie, Guess said he would have preferred a different method to resolve the tie that did not involve luck.
“In the perfect scenario, with us both of us tied, I would think another election would be better, but elections cost money,” Guess said.
In addition to the cost, the runoff election has also left the council with a vacancy that could impact meetings. Earlier this spring, the council was unable to approve a permit request for a used car lot as there were not enough members present.
Guess said he would be pushing to use the coin toss as the method to choose Shearer’s opponent.
“I’ve never been a gambler, and I’ve used the coin flip for years in athletics,” he said.
Hander also noted that Guess likely had more experience with the coin toss and said he would prefer to use the dice to determine the winner.
“Rolling the dice sounds more fun, and if we are going to do something, I want to have fun with it,” he said. “I have the feeling Coach has done the coin toss a lot more than I have and has more experience.”
In addition to deciding the second candidate in the runoff on Wednesday, city officials will also determine the order names will appear on the ballot.