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When Harry Gough had a chance to speak with the provincial court judge overseeing his race to serve as mayor of the small community of Peachland, B.C., he had an idea to run past her.

If breaking his tie with incumbent Mayor Cindy Fortin comes down to a blind draw of two “identical” papers with the candidates names on them, could both names be his?

“She didn’t think that was a great idea,” he said, laughing. “I don’t know why.”

The race in the lakeside community of about 5,000 people in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is drawing attention for the unusual possibility that the mayoral tie could be broken by drawing lots – a process similar to drawing a name from a hat.

How to settle election ties varies across the country. Prince Edward Island moved to a lot draw for local elections after its previous “coin toss” system fell out of favour, but it still decides provincial-level elections by heads or tails. Most provinces break ties with a by-election, with some exceptions such as New Brunswick, where the returning officer casts the deciding vote.

Even ahead of the potential lot draw in Peachland, the race has been rife with twists and turns.

Both candidates said the community appeared to be divided largely on a single issue: the existing council’s approval of a five-storey development along the town’s main artery of Beach Avenue, which was previously zoned for three storeys. While Fortin said it will mean positive new commercial activity in the downtown core, Gough said it represents a slippery slope that could see the beach and lake views obscured by development.

On election night last week, Gough was at a restaurant with friends when his son ran in to tell him that he had won by a single vote.

“Truly none of us believed him, we thought he was pulling our leg,” Gough said.

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Cindy Fortin. (File Photo)HO/The Canadian Press

Meanwhile, Fortin was at a friend’s house with her campaign team and a few other friends when she received the news that Gough had won with 804 votes against her 803.

“I received a text and read it and I thought, ‘what?“’ she said. “I knew immediately that it would probably come down to a recount, that the citizens of the town deserved a recount if it was a one-vote difference.”

Three days after the election, Polly Palmer, the district’s chief election officer, said that a verification of the ballots revealed a tie of 804-804 between Fortin and Gough. An election official had reported that one ballot was not properly fed when a voting machine jammed.

Palmer applied for a judicial recount and the provincial court judge gave it the green light on Friday.

The ballots will be counted by hand on Monday and both Fortin and Gough plan to watch.

If the tie stands, the town’s bylaw points to the process of drawing lots, as described in B.C.’s Local Government Act.

The names of each candidate are to be written on separate pieces of paper, as similar as possible to one another. The papers are then folded in a “uniform manner” and placed in a container that is sufficiently large to allow them to be shaken, the act says.

The court will pick an independent individual to draw the name.

Both candidates said they prefer the idea of a “runoff election,” which is a second option identified in the act, if the tie is confirmed on Monday.

Fortin said when council reviewed the town’s election bylaw in May, it had some concerns about how the mail-in voting process works, but didn’t think to debate the lot-draw option. She said that may change in the future.

“Since this has happened, I think perhaps some communities will be looking at this – including our own, I hope – and changing it for future elections so that there’s a runoff election,” she said.

“It should be the citizens of Peachland making a decision – not someone pulling a name out of a hat.”

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