The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 27, 2013

Coin toss decides trustee race — but recount ahead

JEFFERSON — A coin, flipped Tuesday morning in the offices of the Ashtabula County Board of Elections, has unseated a long-time Jefferson Township trustee.

But Marsha Demshar could be reinstated, depending on the results of a election recount, officials said.

At issue is a tie vote between Demshar and opponent John Wayman resulting from the Nov. 5 general election. When provisional and absentee ballots were added into the Election Day totals, each candidate received 680 votes, board members learned at a Tuesday morning meeting called to certify the final results.

A mandatory recount will be held and the outcome announced at a 9 a.m. Tuesday board meeting. But state law requires the election board to name a victor in advance of the count, said Carol Lovas, director.

“We are obliged to declare a winner,” she said.

So in an office filled with high-tech equipment, a dollar coin brought to the meeting by board chairman Joseph Varckette settled the matter. Wayman, who attended the meeting, was assigned “heads,” the coin was sent spinning and when it landed he was named the winner — unless next week’s recount says otherwise.

Not since 1999 has a coin-flip been needed to decide an election, Lovas said. “It truly shows every vote makes a difference,” she said.

Demshar, reached for comment after the meeting, doubted the outcome will change. “I’m not very optimistic (the recount) will make a difference,” she said.

If so, Demshar has absolutely no regrets.

“I want to thank the voters for 16 good years (in office),” she said. “I was looking forward to another four years, but it didn’t happen. I’ve met so many good people. It was very, very rewarding.”

Wayman could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

Two trustee seats were up for grabs in Jefferson Township earlier this month. Demshar and fellow incumbent John Boczar were challenged by Wayman, the township fire chief. Boczar was the top choice, collecting 792 votes.

The trustee race will be the county’s only recount, Lovas said. The narrow victory voters gave the Ashtabula County District Library levy will stand, she said. The levy was approved by an official 5,087-4,993 total.

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