FORD, Kansas – When one thinks about tiebreakers, usually overtime or extra innings are the first things on people’s minds. But that’s not the case in elections, where things like a coin flip or drawing straws can make the difference between victory and defeat.
In the city of Ford’s case, an election for a city council seat was decided Monday by drawing the winning name out of a hat.
“Until we get a better way of doing it, we’ll have to live with it,” Andy Thompson, whose name was pulled and was elected to the Ford City Council, said.
He said he never expected it to come to this, but he’s excited for the opportunity.
“I’m willing to go in and serve and try to do the best I can for the citizens of Ford City and just try to learn,” Thompson said.
When democracy cannot decide a winner, Kansas law calls for a drawing of lots to decide a winner.
“Here we are, taking random chance and determining who holds office through random chance, but that’s what the state statutes say we have to do,” Jerry King, Ford County Commissioner, said.
The final results of Tuesday’s election left Thompson and incumbent Betty Shearon in a tie for the remaining seat on the Ford City Council. It is a tie that would not have happened if it wasn’t for a family emergency for Thompson’s wife.
“My wife, if she had been there I would’ve won, but her oldest grandson got an attack of appendicitis and ended up in the hospital,” Thompson said. “So she wasn’t able to vote and she was really upset about it, but it worked out.”
Ford County election officials said they could not recall a situation like this one.
“For those people who think that their vote doesn’t count, here’s a perfect example of how important it is to profess your right and vote,” King said.
All hope is not lost for Shearon, who was unable to attend Monday’s proceedings. No one officially ran for mayor in Ford, and Roy Derstein, the man who won the write-in vote, will reportedly decline the position. If it happens, that will leave a vacancy on the city council, who could appoint Shearon to fill the post.