Local elections in New Mexico decided by game of chance after a tie vote

HOUSE, NM – Before a village council meeting on December 13, a table stood outside the room with playing cards, pens and two election certificates.

Community members helped themselves to coffee or bottled water while waiting for activities to begin. Mayor Sherman Martin and village officials sat behind folding tables at the village community center.

The small, rural village of House, with a population of less than 80, registered a high turnout in the November 2 local election, but the votes for two seats on the three-member council were tied. At the last public meeting in 2021, the elections would be decided not with a new vote but by chance: a draw.

At a village council meeting in House, New Mexico, a table is set with cards before a toss that would tie the votes in local elections for two council seats.  Monday 13 December 2021.

Mandy Vigil, chief electoral officer for the office of the secretary of state for New Mexico, said that since 1953, New Mexico law has required related election results to be decided by lot.

“When there is a tie, she will go through the process of being asked first,” she said in an interview. “He’s ready for an automatic recount, just because of the margin. So they all went through this process and after the recount there was no change, which left them in the circumstance of having this process. , to have somehow a link. breaker. “

Local elections in the state were decided by a toss, dice – even a game of poker. In 1998, for example, the mayor of the Estancia, James Farrington, faced his opponent JoAnn Carlson. in a five-card draw after each of them won 68 votes.

Farrington won another term after drawing a flush on the ace.

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After the automatic recounts following the 2021 local elections, three contests remained tied.

In Dulce, school board member Phillip Salazar and his rival Wesley Vigil each got 65 votes. Salazar said he thought a second round would be appropriate and was surprised to learn that instead he and Vigil would have to accept a game of chance.

Phillip Salazar, a board member for Dulce Independent Schools, of Dulce, New Mexico, appears in an undated photo on the school district's website.

According to the law, the game is selected by a committee made up of the candidates and a district judge, as well as the county party chairmen if the election was partisan.

Salazar and Vigil decided to roll the dice, remarking that they “both thought our odds would be better.”

Using three dice, Vigil got 12 and Salazar got 14. When the campaign and the vote were over, it was a shit job that secured him another term.

At the House Community Center, the process unfolded quickly amid laughter and applause.

Quay County Clerk Ellen White invited the four candidates to inspect the deck of cards first, after which one of the candidates – incumbent Ronald McGee – announced he would give in instead.

Quay County Clerk Ellen White prepares to decide on a council election by lot at a House, NM village council meeting on Monday, December 13, 2021. Village Councilor Ronald McGee looked.

Stating “I don’t want to run up against the new board,” McGee shook hands with opponent John Snipes and welcomed him into the body.

Two other candidates proceeded to draw cards, with the highest card (regardless of suit) deciding who would serve. Retired teacher Steven Foust shot a 6 and incumbent Anita Allen shot a 9, earning her another tenure. The two candidates had obtained 17 votes in the election.

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After the meeting, Foust explained that the candidates were not competing directly against each other. Six people were vying for two board positions.

Gesturing towards Allen, Foust said: “She’s awesome. I’m glad she won.”

Village of House, NM Councilor Anita Allen is seen at a village council meeting on Monday, December 13, 2021.

McGee said that at the last moment it was a good time to step down. In addition to new council members, Mayor Martin is stepping down after having served continuously on council or as mayor since 1980. Martin did not seek a new term and Joe Patton was elected to succeed him.

“The new board members and I have a different perspective,” McGee said. Having served in government agencies elsewhere and having experienced political strife, he smiled and said, “I’m too old to take this road again.”

In Dulce, Salazar was left bemused that voters couldn’t break the tie.

“My question was: what if this ended up as a tie? ”he said.“ They said they didn’t even know what was going to happen. It was crazy.”

Algernon D’Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, [email protected] Where @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

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