All elections involve a little bit of luck. But in one Arizona town yesterday day, that meant cutting a deck of cards.After a town council race ended in a tie, the town of Cave Creek selected the winner in an unconventional process. From the New York Times:
Adam Trenk and Thomas McGuire, both in blue jeans and open-collar shirts, strode nervously into Town Hall with their posses. There stood the town judge. He selected a deck of cards from a Stetson hat and shuffled it — having removed the jokers — six times.
Mr. McGuire, 64, a retired science teacher and two-term incumbent on the Town Council, selected a card, the six of hearts, drawing approving oos and aws from his supporters.
Mr. Trenk, 25, a law student and newcomer to town, stepped forward. He lifted a card — a king of hearts — and the crowd roared. Cave Creek had finally selected its newest Council member.
“It’s a hell of a way to win — or lose — an election,” Mr. McGuire said.
Much is made in the article of how, despite the rapid modernization of Arizona, these ties in neatly with its Wild West roots. The bigger question, of course, is whether this is fair and Democratic. The town considered holding another run-off election, but that was deemed to expensive. Cave Creek’s Mayor, Vincent Francia, joked that a paintball match would be considered as well—but a game of skill would be even less fair.Since the 2000 recount, fraught with hanging chad and rushed deadlines, the fairness of close elections has, of course, been a big issue recently (and, of course, the Minnesota Senate recount is still unresolved). I’m no statistician, but I wonder whether, given counting errors, there reaches a certain level of closeness where drawing from a deck of cards is about as fair as tallying and retallying contested ballots.