20 Sides to the Story: Contra Costa, CA Uses Special Die to Break Tie

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Tie elections are more commonplace than you might realize, and in many communities they are decided by chance, or “lot.” While some communities use a random draw, traditional dice or a deck of cards to break a tie, Contra Costa County, CA used something different – a 20-sided die often seen in board games. KTVU has more:

It was literally with the roll of the dice — several rolls, actually – that decided the election for a spot on the Byron Bethany Irrigation District board of directors on Friday.

With both incumbent Larry Enos Jr. and challenger Milan “Pete” Petrovich having tallied 51 votes following last week’s certification of vote totals, Contra Costa County Elections Department personnel were left with getting the two candidates together and, in keeping with state election law, breaking the tie “by lot” in a method of election officials’ choosing. It was a first for both the county and for the irrigation district, and was streamed live Friday by the county elections office.

In this case, “by lot” meant by throwing a 20-sided die such as used in the game “Dungeons and Dragons.” Enos and Petrovich were each asked to toss the die three times; the highest total score won.

On a small table with a maroon-colored cloth cover, Enos rolled 15, 16 and 20, for a score of 51; Petrovich rolled 16, 16 and 13 for a score of 45. [You can watch the video here. – DMCj] With that, in a gathering that lasted a total of about five minutes, Enos had his second full four-year board term.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the usual use for a 20-sided die in election administration. [Wondering if I’m the first person ever to type that sentence.] Such dice are often used as a seeding method on post-election audits as a way to ensure that the choice of ballots to review is completely random.

Bottom line: stuck for a year-end gift idea for the #electiongeek on your list? Perhaps a trip to your local board gaming store is in order! Roll carefully – and stay tuned!

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