Tie race settled by drawing name from hat
MARIETTA — With 878 votes cast as absentee, on Election Day and through provisional ballots for Newport Township’s two open trustee positions, a tie in the second race was decided this week by a draw from a hat.
“That’s the first time in my 10 years that I’ve ever seen a straight tie,” said Peggy Byers, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections.
Byers said the board held the official count meeting Tuesday to confirm the results of the Nov. 7 election and that’s when the draw took place.
“Results are official now, though we’ll double check the Newport votes because it was so close,” she said. “We’re sure it was a tie, but we’ll confirm that next week.”
The tie was between Rodney D. Seevers and Henry T. Schwartz, who both received 214 votes each, a 24.37 percent take of the votes.
Rodney G. King took the top number of votes at 28.25 percent, 248 votes, and Rick Seevers came in last at 202 votes, 23.01 percent.
Byers said Schwartz won the draw Tuesday and will serve alongside King at the start of the new year.
“Henry’s a good guy, I’ve known him all my life,” said Rodney Seevers, 62, of Newport Township. “We need somebody who’ll do something about the country roads out in the township, that’s why I ran. There’s been nothing done and they’re getting bad. Hopefully Henry will do that.”
Schwartz, 68, of Newport Township, said he was surprised by the result.
“I didn’t campaign very hard besides getting the signatures and talking with people,” he said. “But the votes show a good turnout. I just want to help the public a little bit faster.”
Schwartz said his focus is on keeping the roads up and clear, especially in the coming winter months.
“That helps the fire and emergency trucks get out in the country faster if the roads are clear and I think I can help,” he said. “I worked for the county truck driving and mowing the roadsides for years and I used to work for the current county engineer so I feel I have a good relationship with them.”
While the drawing by lot is not an oft-used method in Washington County it is allowed by statute, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
“When there is a tie the winner is decided by lot according to statute,” said Sam Rossi, press secretary for the office. “It could be a coin flip, drawing a card, drawing straws or even drawing out of a hat. And over the last four years there have been 112 races that were a tie or decided by one vote.”
Voter turnout across the county sat at 30.33 percent though it ranged from as low as 20 percent and as high as 48 percent between the precincts.
“That’s why it’s so important for folks, especially in odd years, to turn out to vote,” said Rossi. “It’s the local elections and issues that are decided by those small margins.”