Berrien County commissioner’s race decided by drawing lots after race ends in tie

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 6:02 PM EST
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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - Elections are designed to produce winners and losers, but it doesn’t always work that way.

In Berrien County today, officials went to plan B.

“It just goes to show you how 2020 has really been an unpredictable year. The whole thing is a little bit surreal, even the drawing today,” said declared 5th District Berrien County Commissioner winner Bruce Gorenflo (R). “The odds of it being in a tie are of course astronomical when there’s nearly 8,000 votes cast and there were 24 people wrote in names, so maybe that would have made a difference.”

Both Gorenflo and Democrat Rayonte Bell received 3,934 votes.

The tie was broken today with the candidates blindly drawing pieces of folded paper out of a box.

The paper selected by Gorenflo read “elected,” the paper selected by Bell read “not elected.”

“The only, I guess, other way than this to do it would be to have another election but elections cost money and we don’t want to waste taxpayer’s money on things like this when it could be decided this way,” Bell told 16 News Now.

Gorenflo added, “It’s kind of like a football game ending in a tie and then you just have a coin flip and that team is declared the winner.”

The Berrien County Board of Canvassers performed the tie breaking duties.

The commissioner candidates received several hundred votes fewer than the candidates running for president—a sign that many voters didn’t fill out the entire ballot.

Despite vote totals that were the same, the differences between the candidates were immense.

Gorenflo is a white 63 rear old semi retired graphic artist.

Bell is a 22 year old African American college student running his first race.

The two men said they were proud that they ran a clean, issues oriented campaign.

“I will be requesting a recount just to make sure, you know, all the ballots are counted,” said Bell.

“If it’s still in a tie I guess I win at that point, but I think we would both rather see that there was a gap between the two of us but if there isn’t there isn’t,” added Gorenflo."

Berrien County election results are expected to be finalized tomorrow.

That would start a six day period during which a recount could be requested.

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