SALT LAKE CITY — In what authorities are calling a “rare legal event” that hasn’t happened in years, the winner of the Morgan County Commission District 3 primary election may come down to a coin toss.
With exactly 541 votes apiece, candidates Jared Andersen and Cindy Carter are neck and neck in the primary election — an event that hasn’t occurred in at least a generation, according to a Utah State Courts press release.
“I don’t really know what to say except that I think it’s par for the course for 2020,” said Carter, CEO and co-owner of ICORR Technologies. “Statistically, it’s almost impossible for this to happen.”
Andersen, a civil engineer of 20 years and former Weber County engineer, pointed out that ties, though rare, have happened in the past and are more likely to occur in smaller communities like Morgan County.
Still, to him, a tie has some positive indications.
“It’s really a position of service. You don’t get paid a whole lot. It’s really just the wanting to come out and serve. I guess where I’m at is I’m glad there’s two people that the residents want equally to serve them,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned I think either one of us getting in would do a great job.”
Judges from Utah’s 2nd Judicial District are expected to gather Monday at the Morgan County Commission chamber at 5:30 p.m. to determine the winner based off random chance — per Utah Code, this could be a coin toss, drawing straws, or even drawing the candidates’ names from a hat.
Utah Code says that when a tie occurs in any primary election for a county office seat, the district court judges “shall, at a public meeting called by the judges and in the presence of the candidates involved, select the nominee by lot cast in whatever manner the judges determine.”
Court spokesman Geoffrey Fattah said he does not believe a method had been selected as of Thursday evening.
Carter believes there could be several reasons the vote amounted to a tie. She pointed to some voters not knowing they needed to register as a Republican to receive a ballot, the lack of debates and town halls due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the number of Latter-day Saint missionaries outside of the country who could receive ballots because of the virus.
Like Andersen, she had only good things to say about her opponent.
“I know they are good people and I think if the coin toss or whatever way the judge decides to break the tie, if he wins I’ll support him,” she said. “I think he’s a good guy and we will go with it however it happens.”
Neither candidate has requested a recount of the votes, though according to the courts that could still happen, as state law dictates candidates can call for one several days after the drawing of lots.