In a complete turnaround from last year’s cycle, when no local elections were necessary, Tuesday’s polls resulted in a tie vote for City Commission Seat 2.
Incumbent Scott Dennison and challenger Ricky Cooke each received 146 votes.
City Clerk Frances Hodges said she doesn’t know if this has ever happened in Cedar Key before.
Poll workers recounted ballots and absentee votes to verify the results, Hodges said.
Since this has not happened before, at least in recent memory, once the tie was determined it was unclear how to proceed.
If a municipality does not have an overriding rule in place, Florida law calls for a practical tie breaker, such as a coin toss or drawing of straws.
“In case two or more persons receive an equal and highest number of votes for the same office, such persons shall draw lots to determine who shall be elected to the office,” according to Florida State Statute 100.181 Determination of Person Elected.
City of Cedar Key law states, however, that “If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast for that particular group, the two candidates in that group receiving the highest and next to the highest number of votes cast in that group shall be qualified to participate in the run-off election.”
After reviewing both state and local law, Cedar Key Attorney David Coffey said a run-off election is the appropriate action.
“In this case, because there was a tie vote, neither candidate received a majority of the votes cast and thus a runoff must be held,” Coffey said Wednesday. “The (state) provision that requires the drawing of lots in the event of a tie is a general provision and does not expressly apply to municipalities. Thus this office is of the opinion that the City’s charter requiring a runoff governs.”
The run-off election will be May 25 at City Hall. The polls will be opened from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In the Cedar Key Water and Sewer District Board election, incumbent Dottie Haldeman was re-elected, receiving 254 votes. Challenger Paul E. Oliver received 64 votes.