Have We Seen the Last Election Decided by Coin-Toss?

The coin flip that decided the election between the PC and Liberal candidates in the May 4th election could be the last time that the practice is used to tied elections in PEI.

According to this CBC article, Elections PEI will review the rule to “make sure it is the most efficient way and effective way” to settle ties. If Elections PEI thinks another way would be better, it can recommend a change in its report on the 2015 Election, which pursuant to section 119 of the Election Act (PEI), may be made within 10 days of the commencement of a legislative session.

The coin toss can’t be beat for simplicity and (lack of) expense, but it is completely arbitrary.

The article notes that some jurisdictions give the district returning officer the deciding vote. This is also an inexpensive way to settle a tie, but puts the district returning officer in the uncomfortable position of having everyone know who they voted for, and risks politicizing the appointment of deputy returning officers.

Other jurisdictions require a by-election to be run in the case of a tie. This involves more expense, but is surely more fair than a coin toss or having one person break the tie after the fact.

What do you think is the best method to settle a tied election? What are the advantages and disadvantages of that method? As Elections PEI conducts its review of the coin toss method, I am sure they would be interested in receiving feedback from the public, so don’t hesitate to share your views below and to contact Elections PEI.

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