CANTON – Usually, the voters decide.
But when the vote count for Sugar Creek Township trustee ended up tied, a toss of a 1923 silver dollar coin determined who would get the post.
And the winner is challenger Bill Burtt, a 52-year-old machinist who Monday officially triumphed over incumbent Patrick L. Bucher after a coin toss at the Stark County Board of Elections’ office in Canton.
The official vote count was 438 for Burtt and 438 for Bucher. Burtt had led by four votes in the unofficial results tallied late on Election Night on Nov. 2.
However, by law, the Board of Elections has to conduct a state-mandated recount of 5% of the votes, said Stark County Board of Elections Deputy Director Regine Johnson. However, no outcome in a race in the county has been overturned by a recount in recent memory.
Burtt, however, expressed doubts about the integrity of the process.
He sent a screenshot of results from Election Night time-stamped 11:15 p.m. that showed he had a six-vote lead of 437 to 431 with all five Sugar Creek Township precincts reporting. Only to have results time-stamped 11:47 p.m. where his opponent got two more votes, making it a four-vote margin.
Burtt said he doesn’t understand why it took until Friday, 17 days after the election for the Board of Elections to inform him it was actually a tie after including absentee ballots arriving by mail up until Nov. 12 and provisional ballots ruled to be valid. He felt that he had already won.
He said on hearing it was a tie, “I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t eat lunch. You think you’d won when it says you’re winning by four votes.”
Bucher, who’s currently the trustee, could not be reached Monday for comment. The phone number listed for him on the candidate’s list was disconnected.
By law, the Board of Elections could not add late absentee and provisional ballot votes to the total until Nov. 13 and had to finish the count by Tuesday.
Johnson said the Board of Elections staff realized on Thursday or Friday after tabulating the votes that the Sugar Creek Township trustee race was deadlocked at 438. Bucher had gained five of the late votes and Burtt had gained one.
Reach Robert at (330) 580-8327 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @rwangREP
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Coin toss decides Sugar Creek Township trustee’s race.