What Happens if There is a Tie?

By Adam Pagnucco.

With hundreds of races for state and county office all over Maryland this year, some of them are bound to be close.  In fact, it’s even possible that there could be a tie.  Don’t laugh, readers – that actually happened in a Virginia House of Delegates race last year, with the winner’s name plucked from a bowl and partisan control of the chamber resting on the outcome.  So if a tie occurs in Maryland, what would happen?

The issue appears in five sections of the state’s constitution.  Article II, Section 4 refers to a tie in a race for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  If that happens, the election is decided by a vote of the General Assembly.

Article III, Section 13 refers to a tie in a General Assembly election.  If that happens, the party Central Committee of the same party as the last occupant of the office determines the winner.  The procedure is similar to filling legislative vacancies.

Article V, Section 2 states that if there is a tie in an election for the state’s Attorney General, the Governor decides the winner.

Article V, Section 8 states that a tie in an election for a State’s Attorney will be decided by the judges with criminal jurisdiction in the relevant county.

Other elections for state and county office are covered by Article XVII, Section 8.  If any of them results in a tie, “a new election shall be ordered by the Governor, except in cases specially provided for by this Constitution.”

Municipal elections are not mentioned in the constitution, but the issue came up in 2015 when a city council election in Aberdeen resulted in a tie.  Prior to that, the Maryland Municipal League found that there had been eight ties in municipal elections over the last decade.  Some municipalities had no procedures for resolving ties.  The incident led to the passage of a 2016 state bill specifying that municipalities must have tie-breaking procedures but leaving to them the decision of what to choose.

So there you have it, folks.  With all of the heavily contested races in the state this year, there’s a possibility that one of them could end in a tie – maybe even right here in MoCo.

Are you ready for another election?