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Coin flip and lottery settles Michigan election tie

FIFE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Michigan (CNN) -- With the flip of a coin and a lottery, the winner of the tied race for township supervisor was chosen here Monday.

Two candidates for the office, incumbent Dave Stremlow and challenger Toni Larson, were tied at 297 votes each. An Election Night count indicated Stremlow was the winner by two votes, and a machine recount cut Stremlow's lead to a single vote. Larson requested a hand recount, finding one more vote in her favor, resulting in the tie.

To settle things once and for all, the town relied on a 1954 state statute that says in the case of an election tie, a lottery will decide the winner.

The county court clerk flipped a coin to determine which candidate would draw first from a box holding two slips of paper, one that read "elected" and another that read "not elected."

Larson won the coin flip and the draw and was named the winner. "This is bizarre," she said, after selecting the winning slip of paper.

Stremlow didn't complain. "This is the democratic way," he said, and quickly departed the scene.

When asked if the two presidential nominees, Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Democratic Vice President Al Gore should have settled that other election dispute by lottery, Larson said, "It would have been nice, but they have much more at stake than we do."

Though the township supervisor's race had one thing in common with the presidential election -- a recount -- there were no punch cards, hanging chads, lawyers or lawsuits.

The method of voting was an optical scanner.

There are 1,038 registered voters in this town about 30 miles southeast of the northern Michigan resort of Traverse City.


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Monday, December 11, 2000

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