Dice roll decides House Independent candidate

Statesman Journal
By Whitney M. Woodworth
June 17, 2016

With the roll of the dice, Republican Dan Mason became the Independent Party’s nominee for State Representative in District 30 on the general election ballot.

Mason and his opponent, Democrat Janeen Sollman, each got 41 votes from the Independent Party of Oregon during the May 17 primary. According to state law, ties need to be broken by a game of chance — a coin toss, a roll of the dice or drawing of a straw.

At the Oregon Secretary of State’s office on Friday, Mason and Sollman each inspected the dice. Before the roll, Sollman remarked on the uniqueness of the circumstances, but said she was excited to see the results.

At no time in recent memory has such a tie-breaker been done on the state and legislative level, said Molly Woon, spokeswoman for the Oregon Secretary of State.

Staff and members of the media crowded in the narrow lobby of the office, craning their necks to get a view of the small, blue table-clothed display with two dice resting on it.

Mason said such strange circumstances are indicative of what a close election it was.

“Every vote counts,” he added.

According the rules, the person whose last name came first in alphabetical order got the first roll. Mason selected a dice and shook it in both hands.

“I feel like we need to create a little more intrigue,” he joked.

He tossed it on the table, and Elections Director Jim Williams leaned over to check.

“Mr. Mason just rolled a six,” Williams announced.

As he set the dice aside, Sollman stepped up for her turn. She rolled the dice, knowing she would need a six to get the chance to roll again and beat Mason.

The dice hit the table, and she read the number. It was a three.

Williams declared Mason to be the winner. Mason thanked the crowd and shook hands with Sollman. The candidates stayed in the office to sign off on the results of the tie-breaker.

Sollman said she was disappointed in the outcome but would continue to be a strong independent voice for the voters. She and Mason will face off in November as the candidates for each of their parties to replace Democrat Rep. Joe Gallegos and represent Hillsboro’s District 30.

The Independent Party held its first state-funded primary May 17. Sollman and Mason tied 41-41 among Independents. According to state law, the tie could be broken in a variety of ways. Both candidates just need to agree on the method and be present for the tie-breaker. Officials are also required to hold the tie-breaker in public.

The Associated Press reported that a tied mayoral race in rural eastern Oregon’s Prairie City was decided by a coin toss in November 2004. The candidates drew straws to see who called “heads” or “tails” and rolled a coin to determine the next mayor.

“If you think your vote doesn’t count, think again,” Paul Woodworth, the losing candidate, told the Associated Press in 2004.

Email wmwoodwort@statesmanjournal.com, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth

This article contains information from the Associated Press

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