October 31, 2014

Experts: C&A election results ‘unusual’

“It’s pretty rare,” Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said when asked about tied elections. “I can’t think of anyone in this office who remembers the last occurrence.”


NORMAN, Okla. – In an election full of curveballs, the certified executive branch results from the Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell-affiliated election commission is an unusual wrinkle for voting experts.

“Tie elections are exceedingly rare,” said Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma and multistate litigation consultant in voting rights cases. “However, depending on the rules, there are a couple of ways of dealing with them.”

Some states rely purely on chance to determine a winner, such as flipping a coin or a high card draw. The state of Nevada allows elections to be solved with a game of Texas Hold ‘Em.

Oklahoma’s election code calls for the winner to be drawn by lot at a public meeting held during regular business hours on a weekday. The statute also specifically requires that the lots be the same size, cut from the same kind and color of paper and must be folded once. Candidates must be notified in advance and given the option to have a witness present.  The state’s largest tribe, the Cherokee Nation, has similar language in its election code.

“It’s pretty rare,” Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said when asked about tied elections. “I can’t think of anyone in this office who remembers the last occurrence.”

In the vote certification, the Prairie Chief-Boswell affiliated election commission indicated that it will conduct a special election to determine a winner. If the certification withstands the pending legal challenges and recount request, it would be the third time in three months that Cheyenne and Arapaho voters will be asked to go to the polls, thus potentially running the risk for voter fatigue unless at least one campaign is able to mobilize its supporters.

“Unless you’re a voting geek, it’s not necessarily one of your top priorities,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said. “After the first election, it’s ‘I’ve been a good citizen. I’ve voted. Now what?’

“With a runoff, you go from having lots of contests decided to only having one or two and they might not necessarily mobilize voters. They just don’t show up.”

 

 

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