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SoVaNow.com / November 08, 2013Halifax County witnessed a first on Friday morning as a 686-vote tie between incumbent school board trustee Fay Satterfield and challenger Rita Best was broken by drawing a name from the hat.
According to local records, it was the first time that Halifax County had ever had a tie vote for elective office.
It was the name of Satterfield that Michael Cull, vice chairman of the Halifax County Electoral Board, pulled from a ballot box, substituting for “the hat.”
A big smile moved across Satterfield’s face as Pat Wingler, chairman of the Electoral Board, read out the name of the winner. Best, also on hand to witness the proceedings, immediately turned to Satterfield to congratulate her and wish her well.
“It’s great to have the stress taken off,” said Best, noting that the two days after the election had been very difficult.
Wingler told both candidates, “I’m sorry to have the election decided this way. I would have preferred to have the citizens decide the outcome rather than doing it this way.”
Prior to the drawing the winner’s name, Wingler read from the Code of Virginia to go over the procedure for breaking election tie votes in an election. Code section 24.2-674 reads: “If two or more persons have an equal number of votes for any county, city, town or district office, and a higher number than any other person, the electoral board shall proceed publicly to determine by lot which of the candidates shall be declared elected.” The law also says that any person who loses the determination by lot may petition for a recount pursuant to Article 1 of Chapter I of this title.
Wingler then took two strips of paper containing the two candidates’ names and placed them in small brown envelopes and dropped them into the ballot box. Electoral Board secretary John Bosiger shook the box, and Cull pulled out one envelope, handing it to Wingler to read the name.
A crowd of supporters and school personnel were assembled for the drawing, which was held at the Registrar’s Office in the Mary Bethune Complex at 10 a.m. Friday. In addition to Wingler, Cull and Bosiger, the drawing was attended by Voter Registrar Judy Meeler and two staff members.
CommentsPretty sure that this toss is illegal. The School Board should have "proceed[ed] publicly to determine by lot which of them shall be declared elected". To proceed publicly requires 'reasonable notice.' I believe that the public and the candidates were not provided adequate notice.
- By illegal_toss on 11 / 08 / 13
CommentsFurther I wish to offer that the law does not stipulate the manner of that 'by lot' effort or design. The public and candidates should have been allowed input into that effort/design.
- By illegal_toss on 11 / 08 / 13
CommentsAccording to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Halifax County Electoral Board is responsible for all elections and not the Halifax County School Board. Both candidates in the election were present so obviously reasonable notice was given for the drawing to determine the winner of the election. The number of people who were present would not alter the outcome of the drawing of a name from a hat so there would be no reason for the public to be given ample notice of the process. The candidates were notified, the drawing was held, and the winner was decided. Everything was legal and done according to the election laws of the state. I am willing to bet that if the other candidate's name had been drawn, "illegal_toss" would not have had an objection. Let's put this close race behind us and get on with the business of making decisions that are in the best interest of the children of Halifax County. That must remain our top priority.
- By TieVote on 11 / 08 / 13
CommentsI was not able to attend the grab bag this morning but from the photographs I can see that Rita Best presented herself dressed as the professional I know her to be. Bravo, Rita.
- By SoBoVa on 11 / 08 / 13
Just want to respond to: "I am willing to bet that if the other candidate's name had been drawn, "illegal_toss" would not have had an objection."
That was not my motivation. I just feel that there was a lose in the democratic process -- all votes have equal value -- to conclude an election with a random flip of a coin. My perception -- easily proven mathematically -- is that the value of every vote was either significantly enhanced/diminished. My opinion is that there are so many other more democratic avenues to settle a tie.
- By dear_TieVote on 11 / 09 / 13
CommentsThe response from "illegal_toss" implied that the selection of the winner of the tie vote was not done legally with an implication that the Halifax County School Board was at fault. The school board had nothing whatsoever to do with the selection. The laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia provide guidelines for members of the electoral board in each county or city to follow in case of a tie. To hold another election or run-off vote would have cost the taxpayers a great deal of money, and I feel certain this was taken into consideration when the legislature approved the explicit guidelines for elections in the state. If citizens do not like the process, we need to address it with our representatives instead of implying that the process is illegal. Every vote that was cast on election day had equal value and was not diminished in any way as they all resulted in the tie vote. If any vote had been diminished or enhanced in any way, there would not have been a tie vote.
- By TieVote on 11 / 09 / 13
CommentsThe truth is it doesn't really make a damn. The school system is a federalized system used to control children and their parents. The federal government influences the books, the learning or the the lack of it, and even the food the kids eat. Why? Does federal mean smarter? What a damn joke! The fact is nothing ever really changes. There are simply not enough people running the schools who don't care whether or not they get fired or sued. There are not enough people with the integrity required to tell the feds to go pound sand or to put some imbecile parent in his or her place because their children are disrupting the learning that should be taking place. There is too much self preservation and go along to get along.
- By Get real on 11 / 10 / 13
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