Ethan School Board election results in tie for second seat, to be determined by lots

Vogel, Royston both receive 33 votes at April 12 election

Ethan High School.jpg
The three-way race for two seats on the Ethan School Board Tuesday resulted in a two-way tie for the second seat.
Mitchell Republic File Photo

ETHAN, S.D. — The Ethan School District had its first election for its school board in 10 years Tuesday evening, and the results were something the school had not experienced in recent memory.

“We had a tie,” said Mary Beyer, business manager for the Ethan School District.

After votes were tallied after the closing of the polls, election workers found that two candidates, incumbent Paula Vogel and challenger Marty Royston, had garnered the same number of votes at 33. Another incumbent candidate, Shawn Jerke, received 43 votes in the election that saw voters converge on the polls to select two candidates to fill seats up for election this year.

Seats on the board are at-large bids, meaning in a three-way race for two seats, the two candidates who receive the most votes win the seats.

Jerke will therefore retake his position on the board, but the district will have to take additional steps to determine who will fill the second seat. Beyer said the seat is likely to be determined by a luck of the draw — a method that determines the winner of a tie vote by chance.


Just what that method will be is yet to be determined, Beyer said.

“It’s the luck of the draw. It will come down to deciding what we will do, and the board can suggest something,” Beyer told the Mitchell Republic. “I’m assuming it will be a high-card take from a 52-card deck. Or it could be the flip of the coin. Or the rolling of dice. I’ve heard of a lot of ways people do it.”

The results of the election will become official after the Ethan School Board officially accepts the canvass of the election at its next meeting Monday, May 9. The board typically meets at 5 p.m. The candidates will then have five days where they can request a recount. After that, the method of a luck-of-the draw solution can be selected.

“And then it’s all about luck,” Beyer said.

Tie votes are not unheard of in South Dakota elections. Just last year, a tied mayoral race in Baltic was determined using a deck of cards. After a recount was requested and performed, it was determined that the vote count still stood at 117-117.

The city administrator used just the hearts suit from the deck — 13 cards — for the draw so that there wouldn’t be another tie. The first candidate drew the king, and the second candidate drew the ace, giving her as narrow an election win as was possible under the circumstances.

Michele Pollreisz, the finance officer for the town of Ethan, said election workers were confident of the vote count from Tuesday night. She also said she was not immediately aware of any previous tie vote for city or school offices in the community.

“I don’t think we have that we know of,” Pollreisz said. “(And) we counted several times to make sure.”


Beyer, an Ethan native who graduated from the school, said she also was not aware of any previous ties.

“Not in Ethan, and the last time we (even) had an election was 2012, and I haven’t heard that we ever ended in a tie,” Beyer said.

The two candidates to be announced as the victors in the election will take their seats July 1. Both terms on the five-member board are for three years.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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