Pass the old, gold Utz Potato Chip can. York County, Pa., needs to decide another deadlocked election
The old Utz Potato Chip can was deployed to break an election deadline in November 2007. That’s the first time the gold can was so used – and not the last either. Also of interest: Pro/Con: Should York’s leaders have surrendered to the rebels? and When York County rolled up its red carpet to people of color and In the 1800s, York County voters sided with the Democrats, the party of the South
When York County faces a tied election, officials don’t resort to some high-tech lottery machine.
They turn to snack foods. Actually, the most famous snack food container in York County’s history.
The Utz Potato Chip can.
Just as one example, the can made it into a York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News editorial this year:
“In the Red Lion school board race earlier this year, county election officials broke out the old potato chip can to draw lots to determine a winner of a tie between Stephen Simpson and James Duff on the Democratic ticket for Region 3.
“Mr. Duff won.”
Not much is known about the origin of the can and its deployment as a tiebreaker, except that it has decided races for about 20 years… .
Lots of them, each one pointing to the importance of the vote.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (11/27/2007) tells about one election when the can was deployed to decide the fate of 24 elections:
It might have gone high-tech the last couple years with electronic voting machines, but the county elections office remains old fashioned in settling tie-breakers.
Monday, an old Utz potato chip can decided the political futures of more than 90 electoral hopefuls.
With the can, the county selected winners of 24 municipal races, including the mayor of Goldsboro and a four-year council seat in York Haven.
The selection process was simple. The potato chip can contained hundreds of slips of paper each labeled with a number. As each slip was pulled out of the can, the number on the slip was assigned to a candidate. The hopeful with the lowest number won the race.
None of the candidates attended the meeting. John Scott, county elections director, said the showing was expected because the races were not for high-interest offices.
However, don’t expect the county to scrap the can, which dates back at least 20 years.
Scott said it is still used because it offers candidates the option of grabbing their own numbers. That’s why the county is not considering a switch to a computerized system that randomly determines winners, he said.
A deadlock between two names on Election Day ballots was resolved Monday, with York Haven council incumbent Ruth Conley drawing number 191 and receiving a new four-year term. She and challenger Stephanie Congdon — number 903 — had been tied with 38 votes each.
Despite serving on council for eight years, Conley admitted she was nervous in the days leading up to the decision.
“I just thought to myself that I better not get my hopes up,” she said.
The rest of the winners were write-in candidates. Eric Mueller — number 736 — will serve as Goldsboro’s new mayor. The other challengers, Paul Boyer Jr. and Shawna Thomas, were assigned numbers 802 and 902, respectively.
In Windsor, Ronald Deckman was elected to two council seats. Deckman earned a four-year council seat as a candidate on the ballot, and he won the drawing Monday as a write-in hopeful for a two-year council term.
Deckman said he was shocked when he heard he was locked in a three-way tie for the two-year term. He will turn down the short-term seat, so the Windsor borough council will have to select a replacement.
“I usually never win anything,” Deckman said. “This time, I won twice.”
With the aid of an Utz Potato Chips can.
Also of interest:
– Would have York County supported Abraham Lincoln’s presidency today?
– All politics and York County posts from the start.
– Historians, journalists draw on work of forebears
– Hillary Clinton apparently closer to middle than Obama in minds of York County Dems
– Is York County part of Alabama?
– Why did JFK lose to Nixon in York County?