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Friday, January 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Game of chance to break tie in Fairfield Town Council race

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 6, 2019

Elections service technician Ralph Gruss, left along with Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, center, smiled as Patricia Neuman, right was declared the winner of the Latah Town Council race by using the two balls in a bottle method as the tiebreaker at the Spokane County Courthouse in this December 2013 photo. The method will be used again this Monday to decide the winner of a tied race for Fairfield Town Council. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Elections service technician Ralph Gruss, left along with Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton, center, smiled as Patricia Neuman, right was declared the winner of the Latah Town Council race by using the two balls in a bottle method as the tiebreaker at the Spokane County Courthouse in this December 2013 photo. The method will be used again this Monday to decide the winner of a tied race for Fairfield Town Council. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A tiebreaking game of chance will determine who assumes office on the Fairfield Town Council after an automatic recount found a tie between the two candidates.

The winner of the election between Steven Walk and Dave Watling to serve the town of about 600 residents will be decided Monday afternoon in the Spokane County Elections Office, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. An automatic hand recount showed both candidates with exactly 78 votes apiece in the Nov. 5 election.

As has become customary in Spokane County, election ties are decided with two balls, each marked with a number assigned to one of the two candidates, that are placed inside a small milk bottle. The bottle is shaken, and whichever candidate’s ball comes out first is the winner.

It will mark the first use of this method of picking a winner since 2013, when a 41-41 tie between Melanie Meagher and Patricia Neumann for Latah Town Council was broken by the chance game. Neumann won that contest.

Both candidates are seeking their first election to public office in the town, which is about 30 miles southwest of Spokane on the Palouse. Walk led by 12 votes on election night, good enough for 62.5% of the ballots counted at the time. Jamie Paden won the other Town Council race on the ballot, defeating Mark Matherly to defend her seat on the panel.

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