Coin toss determines winner

Published 11/26 2012 05:53PM

Updated 11/26 2012 06:21PM

DEWITT COUNTY -- A tied board race is no longer up in the air, but it did send something flipping through the air Monday. Jacob Long explains how officials declared a winner.

DeWitt County Clerk and Recorder Dana Smith is digging through her purse looking for a coin. The reason is a first in her more than 20-years working here.

"You never know. Anything is possible."

Smith's search is successful.

"We have a quarter. We're going to go for it."

When the clock strikes 3:00 pm, Smith flips the quarter into the air. But, this is no ordinary coin toss. It's deciding the outcome of a county board race.

"Well, we need something to break a tie, so, here we are."

Republican incumbent Terry Ferguson and independent George Wissmiller both want to serve District B. The problem? Election results show they're dead even.

"We waited 14 days for our absentees to come in. We counted and now we have a tie."

And since the state has no specific rules for situations like this, the clerk is getting creative and flipping a coin. As the incumbent, Ferguson calls tails. But the quarter lands on heads, meaning he loses.

"Disappointed, but I guess that's the way the quarter gets flipped."

Wissmiller is the winner, but he isn't thrilled. He says the process is like gambling.

"This is such a departure from anything close to a democratic election process."

And, to prove his point, he's not taking a paycheck for his seat. It's an ending to an already unique race both men say they didn't see coming.

"I'm glad it's over."

The race might not be completely over yet. Ferguson has five days to file for a discovery recount. He says he hasn't made up his mind if he will.

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