Resolving Tied Elections for Legislative Offices

1/4/2018

50-State Review

Illustration of a tug of warThe information provided below pertains to tie votes for state House and Senate seats. Rules for resolving tie votes for governors are generally set forth in state constitutions.

Rules for resolving ties for congressional seats, local seats and primary elections are not included here, although many of the statutes cited may pertain to other races as well.

Of the 50 states:

  • 27 states determine winners by drawing of lots or similar random methods.
  • 15 states consider that a tie vote means no candidate won the seat, and a new election is called.
  • Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia determine winners by having the winner selected either by the governor or by the state board of elections. 
  • Nevada and New Hampshire determine winners by a joint vote of the state legislature. 
  • North Carolina bifurcates its tiebreaking system: if a state legislative election involves fewer than 5,000 votes, the tie is broken by the canvassing board which oversaw the election. If a state legislative election involves greater than 5,000 votes, a special election is held between the tied candidates.
  • New Jersey does not have a statute governing the breaking of tie votes.
  • Hawaii uses an “election points” system to determine the winner. 

The box allows you to conduct a full text search or use the dropdown menu option to select a state.

State Statutes
STATE SUMMARY

Alabama
Ala. Code
§17-12-23

Ties are broken by lot.

Arizona
ARS 16-649

Ties are broken by the drawing of lots.

Alaska
Alaska Stat. §15.15.460
§15.20.530

A tie vote triggers a recount. If the race is still tied after the recount, the winner is determined by drawing lots.

Arkansas
Ark. Code Ann.
§7-5-704

To break ties, a special runoff election is held three weeks from the day on which the general election that resulted in a tie is held.

California
Ann. Cal. Elec. Code § 15651

The secretary of state resolves the tie by lot.

Colorado
CRS § 1-11-101

The secretary of the state resolves the tie by lot.

Connecticut
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 9-332

A recount shall be held to break a tie vote. If after the recount the vote is still tied, a special election between the two tied candidates will be held three weeks after the general election resulting in the tied vote.

Delaware
Del. Code Ann. Tit. 15 § 5708, § 7101

A tie is treated as a vacancy and a special election shall be held to fill the vacant seat.

Florida
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 100.181

The tie is resolved by lot.

Georgia
Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-501

A runoff is held 28 days following the tied election.

Hawaii
HRS § 11-157

The candidate who earns the highest allocation of “election rate points” wins the election. An election rate point is calculated by dividing voter turnout in a district or precinct by total voter turnout in a district. It also takes into account absentee votes.

If there is a tie between candidates in the election rate point total, the one who is allocated the highest election rate points from the district precinct with the largest voter turnout wins.

Idaho
ID Code § 34-1216

Ties are broken by a toss of a coin before the secretary of state.

Illinois
Ill. Rev. Stat. tit. 10 §5/23-27

The tie is resolved by lot.

Indiana
IC §§ 3-12-9-1

The tie is resolved by a special election.

Iowa
I.C.A. § 50.44

The tie is resolved by lot (drawing names written on paper).

Kansas
K.S.A. §§ 25-3208

The state Board of Canvassers breaks the tie by lot.

Kentucky

KRS § 118.425(6)

Ties are broken by lot.

Louisiana
L.R.S. § 18:512

A runoff election is held on the third Saturday after the date when the results of the tie are promulgated.

Maine
Me. Const. Art. 5, Pt. 1, § 3

A special election is held to break the tie.

Maryland
MD Constitution, Art. 17, § 8

A special election is held to break the tie.

Massachusetts
M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. XV (provision is found under “Articles of Amendment”)

To break a tie vote, a runoff election will be held on the fourth Monday of the same November as the general election resulting in a tie.

Michigan
M.C.L.A. 168.852

The tie is broken by lot.

Minnesota
M.S.A. § 204C.34

The appropriate canvassing board breaks the tie by lot.

Mississippi
Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-605

The winner of a tie vote is determined by lot. However, the loser of this tiebreaker can appeal to the legislature for final resolution.

Missouri
MRS § 115.517

To break the tie, the governor orders a runoff election to be held between the tied candidates, and sets the date for the runoff.

Montana
MCA §§13-16-503

The governor casts the deciding vote by appointing one of the candidates.

Nebraska
Neb. Rev. Stat. §32-1122

A tie vote triggers a recount. If the race is still tied after the recount, races canvassed by the state board of canvassers, which includes legislative races, are determined by lot.

Nevada
N.R.S.A. § 293.400

The legislature elects one person to fill the office by joint vote of both houses.

New Hampshire
N.H. Const. Pt. 2, Art. 42
N.H. Stat. 660:24

Ties are broken by a joint vote of both houses of the legislature.

New Jersey
N.J.S.A. §§ 19:28-1 et seq. and 19:29-1 et seq.

There is no specific statute governing the resolution of ties. Instead, in the event of a tie, either tied candidate may petition for a recount or contest the election results.

New Mexico
N.M.S.A. § 1-13-11

In the event of a tie, the winner is determined by lot.

New York
N.Y. Election Code § 15-126

To break ties, a runoff election shall be held on the first Tuesday at least 10 days following the election. However, if the tying candidates consent, the election may be resolved by lot.

North Carolina
N.C.G.S.A. § 163A-1176 (formerly 163-182.8)

For general elections in which more than 5,000 votes were cast, a runoff election shall be held to determine the winner.

For general elections in which fewer than 5,000 votes were cast, the tie shall be broken in a random manner to be determined by the State Board of Elections.

North Dakota
NDCC 16.1-11-38.

To break a tie, a mandatory recount shall be held. If a tie still exists, determined by drawing of names (by lot).

Ohio
OH Code § 3505.33

The winner in a tied election is chosen by lot by the appropriate board of elections.

Oklahoma
26 OK Stat. § 8-105

The appropriate board selects by lot in a public meeting and in the presence of the candidates involved or their designee.

Oregon
O.R.S. § 254.575

The winner of a tie vote is determined by lot.

Pennsylvania
Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 25 §3168

The winner of a tie vote is determined by lot.

Rhode Island
RICA § 17-3-3

The secretary of the state orders a runoff election for the 10th day from the date of the declaration of a tie, unless it is a legal holiday. In that case, the secretary directs the runoff election to proceed on the next day after the 10th day that is not a legal holiday.

South Carolina
SCC §§ 7-13-2210

For legislative offices, the election officials shall hold a runoff election two weeks following the election. If that date falls on a legal holiday, they hold the runoff on the same day of the first week following that is not a holiday.

South Dakota
SDCL §12-21-43

A tie vote first triggers a recount. If the race is still tied, it is resolved by drawing lots.

Tennessee
TC §§ 2-8-111

The state election commission casts the deciding vote.

Texas
V.T.C.A., Election Code §2.002

A tie vote first triggers a recount. If the race is still tied, a special election is called no earlier than the 20th day or later than the 30th day after the final canvass is completed. However, the tying candidates may agree to cast lots or one candidate may resolve the tie by withdrawing from the race.

Utah
Utah Code §20A-1-304

An election officer breaks a tie by lot in a public meeting in the presence of each person subject to the tie.

Vermont
Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17 § 2602k

A tie vote first triggers a recount. If the recount results in a tie, the court shall order a recessed election to be held, within three weeks of the recount, on a date set by the court.

Virginia
VA Code Ann. §24.2-674

For members of the General Assembly, the State Board of Elections resolves the tie by drawing lots.

Washington
RCW §29A.60.221

The official empowered by state law to issue the original certificate of election publicly decides by lot.

West Virginia
W. Va. Code, §3-6-12

The board of canvassers responsible for canvassing the results of the election breaks the tie. However, if the board fails to do so within 30 days of the election, the governor breaks the tie.

Wisconsin
WSA § 5.01(4)

The winner of a tied vote is determined by drawing lots.

Wyoming
WSA § 22-16-119

The winner is determined by drawing lots.