Coin Toss Determines new Sheriff

We live in an era where almost anything is possible. A world made more of convenience as the days pass us by. Seems just about anything is possible. We’ve come leaps and bounds with medical technology, give voice commands to our phone to our bidding, and even drive electric cars. But even with all the technology, we can’t seem to solve our tied elections without a coin toss. 

After the November 6th election, Republican James “Jim” Studdard led the Clay County Sheriff race with 2675 votes over Democrat Henry Lambert’s 2668 votes, a difference of only 7 votes. Not many times in election history has the few provisional votes ever really made a difference, but this would be the case with 23 provisionals hanging in the balance determining the fate of our new Sheriff. 

At 12 noon today, Sheriff Ray Latham, Revenue Commissioner Ronald Robertson, Investigator Shanon House and Probate Judge Dianne Branch unsealed the 23 provisional votes and counted them before a small crowd inside the courtroom inside the Clay County Courthouse. Six of these votes were thrown out because the voter wasn’t registered to vote in Clay County.  And then, the unthinkable happened…a tie. Each candidate had 2680 votes. 

After a call to the Secretary of State and his attorney,  the standard protocol to determine a winner came down to a coin toss. Lambert offered the use of his quarter stating with a nervous joke that he had never been any good at gambling. For a second, neither of the candidates would call anything. Finally Studdard called heads. And with a flip of this historic coin by Sheriff Latham, heads it was as the coin dropped to the floor. Studdard was declared the unofficial winner.

Now, with an election this close, a recount will take place. It will begin at 9:00 am on Friday, Nov. 16 for an official winner. If, and only if, there was a runoff election between the two candidates, it would carry a price tag of approximately $50,000, but that is not even a factor in this contest. I’ll be there Friday as the recount takes place to bring you late breaking results. 

And just like that, our historic Clay County Courthouse becomes even more historic. This is the first election to ever end with a coin toss in our little county…

Our Congratulations are extended to Jim Studdard! 


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