The election came down to a coin flip Thursday night in Grey Cloud Island Township, where Richard Polta and Raymond L. Kaiser each vied for a town supervisor seat after garnering identical vote totals — 84 each — on Nov. 3.
The tie vote, a first as far as anyone could remember in the riverside community west of Cottage Grove, came as a surprise to Polta.
“He beat me two to one” in the last election four years ago, Polta said of Kaiser.
So on Thursday night, Town Board Chairman Dick Adams pulled out a 1967 Kennedy half-dollar for the decisive flip.
Polta and Town Clerk Cheryl McColley witnessed the toss in person at the Grey Cloud Island Township Town Hall while Kaiser, traveling for work, watched via a video feed.
Kaiser called tails. It came up heads. Polta’s third bid for the seat turned out to be the charm.
“Oh, it’s no big deal,” said Polta before the coin toss of his political campaign. “Me and the other guy, we get along fine.”
Coin flips, drawing straws or pulling a name out of a hat actually are official ways to determine winners in the event of a tie in many states.
Known in election law as “determination by lot,” the practice has been used in recent years at the Iowa Democratic caucuses, in a Florida city council race in 2014, and in a 2006 Democratic primary in Alaska.
Polta said he didn’t knock on a single door during this year’s campaign. “It’s a small little township down here,” he said. “Most of the people know who you are.”