Mississippi to Settle Contentious Election by Drawing Straws

Dem, Republican face off in game of chance to break the tie for state House seat
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2015 8:34 AM CST
Mississippi to Settle Contentious Election by Drawing Straws
Go for it.   (Shutterstock)

Two men will convene in a Jackson, Miss., conference room Friday afternoon, ready to play a game of chance for a seat in the state's House of Representatives, the Clarion-Ledger reports. There's a tie between incumbent Democrat Blaine "Bo" Eaton and GOPer Mark Tullos for the District 79 seat, with each claiming 4,589 votes. So they're going to figure out the winner "by lot," a method the New York Times notes many states use to break electoral ties. After rejecting the idea of a good old-fashioned coin toss, the straw method was chosen, with 1:30pm local set as the time of reckoning. The men will reach into a bag containing two boxes, and the contender who finds the box with the "long green straw" will be the winner.

Except the game of chance may not be left so much up to chance after all. The rules dictate that if the loser challenges the results, the full House of Representatives will vote on the winner in January. And Eaton said Wednesday he'd honor the results of the straw draw no matter what, and wants Tullos to do the same—but Tullos has already indicated he won't do the same and would leave his fate to the GOP-dominated House. Electing Tullos is definitely in House Republicans' best interest, notes the Clarion-Ledger: It would give them a three-fifths supermajority, allowing them to pass laws without Democrats' support. "It's wrong—philosophically, morally," Eaton tells the Times. "It's archaic, it's medieval ... We need a new election." (More Mississippi stories.)

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