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Tied election could be decided by coin flip: There must be a better way of making important decision other than luck

News-Miner opinion: Today the Alaska Division of Elections will recount ballots cast for House District 1, which have put Democrat Kathryn Dodge and Republican Bart LeBon in a tie at 2,661 votes a piece.    

If this recount produces the same result there will be a coin toss. House District 1’s representation would be left to chance. The potential for a GOP House majority will hinge on heads or tails. 

Is there a better way to resolve an election tiebreaker than a coin toss? As rare as a tie may be, this is the second state house race this year that resulted in a tie. On Jan. 4, a Virginia House of Delegates election ended in a tie. By statute, the fate of the 94th House District of Virginia was decided by drawing one of two names written on paper from a bowl. Republican David Yancey lucked out to retain his seat in the Virginia House. 

Virginia’s solution is not much better.  

Perhaps an Alaska-centric biathlon — in which the candidates cross country ski a 15-kilometer, groomed trail, while hunting for ptarmigan and hares along the trail, collecting points for the fastest ski time and the hunt — would tell us who the better representative would be? In terms of politics, the Alaska biathlon is as arbitrary as a coin toss but at least we’d get a better picture of the candidates’ Alaska-ness — a trait that seems more important in campaign messaging than actual policy, sometimes. 

The major problem with the hypothetical Alaska biathlon — like the coin toss — is it does not reflect the will of the people.

If House District 1 comes down to a coin toss, it would certainly be a novel finish to a wild election season. 

There is a wrinkle in this storyline that could help Ms. Dodge claim victory, though. There are two ballots being investigated by the Division of Elections for validity. Should either of these ballots be green-lighted to count toward her total it could give her the point necessary to win — assuming the ballot recount produces the same results.

At this point, all we can do is wait and see what happens. The underlying message here is that your vote counts. Some people are fed up with “the system” and argue their vote and your vote do not matter. The House District 1 race is proof your vote does matter.

The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at newsminer.com. Contact the editor with questions at letters@newsminer.com or call 459-7574.

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Guidelines

The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at newsminer.com. Contact the editor with questions at letters@newsminer.com or call 459-7574.

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Send Community Perspective submissions by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707) or via email (letters@newsminer.com). Submissions must be 500 to 750 words. Columns are welcome on a wide range of issues and should be well-written and well-researched with attribution of sources. Include a full name, email address, daytime telephone number and headshot photograph suitable for publication (email jpg or tiff files at 150 dpi.) You may also schedule a photo to be taken at the News-Miner office. The News-Miner reserves the right to edit submissions or to reject those of poor quality or taste without consulting the writer.

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