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Oklahoma lawmaker promises to address 'archaic' election practice

Jenny Mae Harms

After incumbent Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant received the exact same number of votes as challenger DJ Long in last month’s Republican primary, the County Election Board pulled a name from a bucket to determine the winner. Long got the luck of the draw — because only Republicans ran, he’ll be the county’s next sheriff.

State Rep. Tammy Townley’s district includes much of Carter County, which is 100 miles south of Oklahoma City After seeing her newest Sheriff chosen at random, Townley is pledging to introduce legislation to prevent it from happening again.

"I had no idea that we still had archaic practices like this on the books," Townley said in a statement. "I had assumed, as I suspect many others did as well, that this race would proceed to a runoff. I was shocked to learn that a race could be decided by a game of chance rather than by voters."

Under existing state law, tied races with only two candidates can’t go to a runoff election — just a recount, if requested, and then a drawing. Townley says her bill would offer County Election Boards several options in the case of a tied race, including a runoff.

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Graycen Wheeler