Perryville to decide tie elections with coin flip
jbellmyer@ cecilwhig. com
— The next tie at the ballot box will be
settled with a coin flip.
Perryville’s mayor and commissioners reluctantly agreed to the measure on Tuesday night, which is required by the Maryland General Assembly.
“The legislature says you’ve got to have a way to settle tie votes,” Mayor Jim Eberhardt said during the town meeting.
The town that caused the legislature to pass such a law is Aberdeen, said Jim Peck, director of research and information management for the Maryland Municipal League. A November 2015 city council election resulted in a draw between two candidates with Sean DeBonis and Stephen Smith each receiving 655 votes. Without language in its charter addressing a tie, legal advisors suggested that the mayor bring forth the name of a candidate for council approval, which resulted in a council stalemate.
“They had a monthslong 2- 2 standoff,” Peck said.
It was finally resolved in April 2016 with the acceptance of Steven E. Goodin.
In the meantime, Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti ( DHarford) got a bill passed in Annapolis that required towns to be prepared for the next tie.
“It says they have to have some means to address a tie,” Peck said. “In Ridgely, they draw lots. The majority hold a special election.”
In Perr yville, the board considered two separate charter amendments. One called on the elected body to flip the deciding coin, while the other handed that duty to the board of elections.
Not everyone on the board was enamored with the flipping plan.
“I just wish there was a better way than flipping a coin to choose a mayor,” Commissioner Ray Ryan said.