We were unaware with how tied votes in any local or national elections are settled but when we learned that a tie in the election for the Mayor of San Teodoro in Mindoro was settled with a coin toss, we just had to check the rules. We note that it seems purely a coincidence that a coin was used and not because politicians are two-faced.
“Sec. 240. Election resulting in tie. - Whenever it shall appear from the canvass that two or more candidates have received an equal and highest number of votes, or in cases where two or more candidates are to be elected for the same position and two or more candidates received the same number of votes for the last place in the number to be elected, the board of canvassers, after recording this fact in its minutes, shall by resolution, upon five days notice to all the tied candidates, hold a special public meeting at which the board of canvassers shall proceed to the drawing of lots of the candidates who have tied and shall proclaim as elected the candidates who may be favored by luck, and the candidates so proclaimed shall have the right to assume office in the same manner as if he had been elected by plurality of vote. The board of canvassers shall forthwith make a certificate stating the name of the candidate who had been favored by luck and his proclamation on the basis thereof.
Nothing in this section shall be construed as depriving a candidate of his right to contest the election.” [Underline supplied.]
COMELEC Resolution No. 9648, under Section 28. i. 6. b, likewise states:
“In case there are candidates receiving the same number of votes for the same position, the Board immediately notify the said candidates to appear before them for the drawing of lots to break the tie. The drawing of lots should be conducted within one (1) hour after issuance of notice by the Board to the candidates concerned.” [Underline supplied.]
So why the coin toss? Apparently, it was the local election officer Mr. Reny Pagilagan’s suggestion -
“When the two candidates for mayor of San Teodoro were called to the election office Tuesday morning, Mr. Pagilagan said the two already knew what would happen but still deferred to the election officer to determine the manner of how to break the tie.
“I suggested a coin toss, with whoever flipping the most number of heads after five tries to be declared the winner. They agreed and when I searched my pocket for loose change, I found a five peso coin,” he said. As ground rule, the coin must be tossed by the candidates above their heads and the coin must bounce at least once on the tiled floor, he added.
As if the gods were also having problems making a choice, Mr. Py and Feraren were again tied after the first round, each flipping two heads after five chances.
The second round saw 49-year-old Mr. Feraren, brother of the outgoing town mayor Apollo Feraren, emerging as victor, flipping two heads to Mr. Py’s one.
“It was a suspense thriller,” said Mayor-elect Feraren, relieved the experience was already over.
Mr. Pagilagan said the two rivals embraced after the winner was declared.”
Was all that coin tossing legit? Are the candidates allowed to agree to a different form of settling ties even as the rules specify that there should be “drawing of lots”? Is coin tossing equivalent to drawing of lots? We have yet to hear any objections to the San Teodoro result but considering how “precious” elective positions are treated in this country, we are waiting ….
It is ironic that despite the advances in technology and the fact that we now have automated elections reportedly costing P1.8B, the result of one contest was decided by a decidedly old method, the luck of the draw, or in this case, the toss of a P5 coin.