Politicians Draw Straws To Determine Winner Of State House Race

But Mississippi's Republican-controlled House may ultimately decide.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP

Two opponents in a Mississippi state congressional race are tied with 4,589 votes each. How will they break the tie? By drawing straws, of course.

State Rep. Bo Eaton, a Democrat, must meet with Republican opponent Mark Tullos on Friday to determine who wins. Mississippi election law says that in the event of a tie, the winner "shall be determined by lot."

The decision won't be made by flipping a coin. Instead, the candidates will have to reach into a bag that contains two boxes. The long, green-colored, winning straw will be inside one of the boxes. The candidate who draws the box with the winning straw will be declared the winner.

As The Clarion-Ledger noted, the loser is allowed to appeal the result of to Mississippi's House of Representatives, which would then determine the winner.

Eaton said in a statement that he "will abide by the result and not challenge the election." Tullos, however, said he is prepared to challenge the result. This would likely mean a win for him, since Republicans control the state House.

Although Eaton told The Clarion-Ledger that he believes he could persuade some of his Republican friends to vote for him via a secret ballot, it's unlikely he'd defeat Tullos if the election comes to that.

"It seems unfair to the people of this district and this state to have a representative based on a coin toss, or on the Legislature choosing based on partisan leadership, since they need one vote for a supermajority," Eaton told The Clarion-Ledger. "But I don't think the leadership would have a choice [but to lobby for Republicans to vote for Tullos]."

Other elections have also been decided by drawing straws. In 2014, two candidates drew straws in an alderman's race in Poplarville, Mississippi.

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