As of Monday afternoon, a winner has been declared in the previously tied race for Berrien County’s fifth district commission seat. In a tiebreaker broadcast via YouTube, Republican Bruce Gorenflo won the election by choosing the right slip of paper.
The Berrien County Board of Canvassers confirmed this weekend that both Gorenflo and his Democratic opponent, Rayonte Bell, each received 3,934 votes.
So, it came down to an old-fashioned tiebreaker: Bell and Gorenflo drew slips of paper from a covered box, and Gorenflo chose the one that said “Elected.”
“Well, it’s just kind of surreal," Gorenflo said. "I think my opponent said the same thing afterwards, he says ‘It feels like a dream.’ It’s kind of strange, but that’s how this year is. Who could have predicted any of this?”
Bell said while it’s disappointing for the election to come down to drawing slips of paper, he’s been grateful for the experience.
“You know, we campaign and we do the work, so it’s a little disappointing," he said. "But hopefully in the future, people realize that your vote counts. Every single vote counts.”
Bell said he will request a recount after the County Board of Canvassers certifies the election this week. The recount can begin after the State Board of Canvassers meets to canvass the election on Nov. 23.
Berrien County has released unofficial election results with about 98 percent of precincts reporting. One of those races is a dead tie.
Republican Bruce Gorenflo and Democrat Rayonte Bell are vying for the 5th District County Commission seat, and they both have 3,934 votes.
Bell said neither he nor Gorenflo were expecting that outcome.
“We communicated earlier; we were both shocked at the results," he said. "I didn’t know what to expect going into this, but this was surely not one of those things.”
What happens now, according to Berrien County Elections Coordinator Jason Watts, is that the board of canvassers will check for any errors that would change the vote total.
If there’s still a tie after that, candidates will “draw lots” from a box. Whoever draws the lot with the word “elected” on it, wins. The losing candidate can then request a recount.
Michigan’s county boards of canvassers have until November 17th to certify election results.
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