A tie between two candidates in a Sunnyside City Council race will be settled Tuesday, the day election results for the county primary have to be certified.
Sunnyside City Council District 3 challengers Spencer Martin and Victor Ochoa tied at 56 votes in the Aug. 6 primary, one vote behind incumbent council member Don Vlieger.
Under state law, the Yakima County Auditor’s Office is allowed to choose a game of chance to settle such ties in elections. A recount of ballots by hand will be conducted first Tuesday, and a lot drawing will be held if the certified results hold.
The drawing is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday in the ballot processing area in the bottom level of the Yakima County Courthouse. Numbers 1 through 10 will be put in plastic casings and then turned in a bingo machine, after which Martin and Ochoa will both pull a number.
The candidate who pulls the lowest number advances to the general election to face Vlieger.
Mattingly said the process is the most fair because it allows the candidates to choose their numbers, as opposed to other options used in the past. In 2007, Mattingly flipped a quarter to decide a tie race for the Tieton City Council.
“It’s also what we use to determine the placement of candidates on the ballot,” Mattingly said.
The tie almost didn’t happen after one Sunnyside voter failed to sign his ballot and took several days to respond to the county’s request that he provide his signature so the vote could be counted. There were 888 ballots mailed in the district, but turnout was slightly more than 19 percent.
Martin said he was disappointed that low turnout in the race led to the tie and lot drawing. He said he’s never seen anything like it.
“You reach in and pull out a number and hope to God it’s the lowest one,” Martin said. “It’s a pretty fascinating process.”
Ochoa said he never considered a tie to be a possibility. Now he says both candidates just have to rely on luck to get the desired result.
“Do I consider myself a lucky person? Absolutely,” Ochoa said.