This afternoon, Contra Costa County Elections certified the results of the November 8th election and reported the results to the City of Richmond. The results show a tie between Andrew Butt and Cesar Zepeda for Richmond City Council District 2, each receiving 1921 votes.
HERE IS AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM COUNTY ELECTIONS:
“The Contra Costa Elections Division has now certified our Official Results for the November 8, 2022 General Election. We had two very close races; one by only 3 votes and one that ended in a tie. This is perfect example why we say that EVERY VOTE COUNTS!
In the event of a tie vote, Election Code says that tie may be decided by “lot” – a game of chance. (The Elections office has conducted a tie-breaker before by the roll of dice.)
Each city that requests to consolidate their election must define in their resolution, how a tie will be decided. Richmond’s City Resolution 79-22 states that a tie for the Richmond City Council District 2 will be decided by the City of Richmond, once we certify the results. Please contact the Richmond City Clerk’s office for more information.”
HERE ARE MY FACTUAL COMMENTS ON WHAT COMES NEXT....
A Resolution passed by the Richmond City Council on 6/21/22 specifically states: “That the County Election Department is authorized to canvass the returns of the Municipal Election.”
California Elections Code 15302 defines what it means to "canvass the returns", which basically means to count the ballots, and certify and report the results. Section (h) calls for "Reporting final results to the governing board (in this case, the City of Richmond) and the Secretary of State, as required.”
County Elections has now finished its statutory responsibility under the State Elections Code to “canvass” the ballots, certify the results, and report them to the City.
What happens when the official certified results are tied? California Elections Code 15651 provides - "determine the tie by lot". In other words, the tie must be broken by a process that is based on chance, not on skill. A recent tied election in the County was determined by the roll of dice. Drawing a card, flipping a coin, or pulling a name out of a hat have been used in the past. No running races allowed!
The Mayor and City Council voted to establish their own process of chance. Under the Richmond City Council’s 6/21/22 resolution: “..if two or more candidates for mayor or in a district receive an equal and the highest number of votes, the City Clerk shall summon the candidates receiving the tie vote to appear before her, at the time designated by the City Clerk, in the Council Chamber. The City Clerk shall place the name of each candidate in a sealed unmarked envelope and the tie vote shall be broken by lot.”
It is now up to the Richmond City Clerk to conduct the process to break the tie, as set forth in their resolution. County Elections has no authority to conduct this tie-breaker. I’ve been told that Richmond’s City Attorney is advising the City Clerk on this issue.
This should be a public process. The City Clerk has previously stated that the process would be telecast on live streaming through the City’s website.
We will await to hear any announcements by the City Clerk on when, how and where the tie-breaking process will occur. I have heard that the City Clerk is out of the office today so it appears that any tie-breaker will not occur until next week.