Heyburn to resolve City Council tie with coin flip

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Heads or tails? That question will determine a city council election in Heyburn on Wednesday.

The city announced they will flip a coin to break the tie between incumbent Dick L. Galbraith and Glen Loveland will take place during a special council meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Heyburn City Council chambers

“I was a little disappointed,” Galbraith said. “I thought maybe they could have a better way of determining what the outcome was going to be.”

Galbraith and Loveland both received 112 votes. Loveland didn’t respond for comment on the situation.

Heyburn’s city attorney Paul Ross said some people thought the city was making the policy up.

“That’s not the case, it’s in the statute,” Ross said. “That’s the way it’s to be determined.”

The 50/50 tiebreaker would be put in place in any city, county or state election in Idaho. That means even if the governor race were to end in a tie, there would be a coin toss.

Of course it’s almost impossible for that to happen at a state level. However, Justin Ruen, a policy analyst with the Idaho Association of Cities, says coin tosses are pretty common for city elections.

There were actually three others ties on Tuesday in Idaho cities. Plummer, Roberts and White Bird all had ties. If you add up the populations of all of those places, they only add up to about half of Heyburn’s.

“Heyburn is the largest one I’ve heard of having a tie,” Ruen said.

Ruen said at about 1,000 people it becomes rare for a tie to happen. So with a population of more than 3,000, he was surprised to see a tie come up.

“It’s definitely unusual,” Ruen said.

City officials in Heyburn were surprised too.

“I was shocked,” said Ashlee Langley, Heyburn’s city clerk. “I just knew we had to look and see how we need to handle it all.”

When they did, they found the statute about the coin flip. They also found that city clerk would flip. So the city’s next councilmember effectively rests on Langley’s thumb.

“I’m a little nervous for the coin toss, but we’ll do it and see how it goes,” Langley said.

The city decided to use a 50 cent piece. They will let the coin hit the ground rather than catching it, and the candidates will decide who gets heads and who gets tails.

“It’s interesting that we are in a democracy and that we have an election where people make votes when it comes down to the final decision that we’re leaving it up to chance,” Ross said.

Ross also said that with both candidates receiving equal support in the community, he thinks they are both capable of doing the job.

UPDATE: The city of Heyburn announces day of rare tie-breaking event in City Council seat race.

The tie-breaking coin flip between incumbent Dick L. Galbraith and Glen Loveland will take place during a special council meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Heyburn City Council chambers at city hall, 941 18th St.

The coin flip will be conducted by City Clerk Ashlee Langley. In Tuesday's election, both candidates received 112 votes. The City Council had two seats up for grabs. One was claimed by incumbent Chad Anderson with 176 votes.


Candidates who tied running for a second Heyburn City Council seat may have to flip a coin to see who takes the position.

Heyburn City Clerk Ashlee Langley said the city is going through its ordinances and has been communicating with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, the Minidoka County’s elections office and Idaho Association of Cities about what to do to resolve the rare event.

If an ordinance can’t be found, it may be comedown to a coin toss.
Minidoka County Clerk Tonya Page said in her time with the office, she doesn’t remember a decision coming to a coin toss. She said the commissioners will likely canvas, or verify, the election results on Monday, making them official.

City Administrator Tony Morley said they are waiting for the agencies that interpret the law, including the Idaho Attorney General’s office, to determine if the coin toss can be done before or after the election results are certified.

Officials discussed hosting the coin toss Wednesday night, but that has been put on hold until a clear determination is made. Morley said the city is still looking through its city ordinances, but the decision will come down to what current election law states.

Once a decision is made, Langley said Heyburn will schedule a special meeting to determine the second city council member. Langley said she’d conduct the toss.

In Tuesday’s consolidated election, two Heyburn City Council seats were up for grabs. Chad Anderson won a seat with 176 votes, and Dick L. Galbraith and Glen Loveland each received 112 votes.

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