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Florida City Council Person Will Be Picked Out of Hat After Tie

A city council position in a small city in Florida will be determined by chance on Tuesday night after the two candidates tied in the election. Incumbent Nick Girone and challenger Marie Rich each received 2,349 votes in the election in Mount Dora, a city 30 miles north of Orlando with a population of about 13,000, said Kelda Senior, the city spokeswoman. The council has elected to pick the winner's name out of a hat, and as long as the proposal is approved on Tuesday, the drawing will happen on the front lawn of City Hall. "We already have the hat picked out and everything,” Senior said, adding, "only in Florida, right?"

The tie "has certainly been the talk of our city the past few days," said City Clerk Gwen Keough-Johns. After counting the votes three times, the voting commission determined Friday that the race was tied, Keough-Johns said. Residents and the candidates knew it might come down to chance because the city attorney had advised that a runoff is reserved for races with more than two people, when no one gains the majority, Keough-Johns said. But Florida statute requires that if two people receive an equal amount of votes for a particular office, "such persons shall draw lots to determine who shall be elected to the office."

"There are some residents and others in town who feel that a runoff would be better," said Senior, but the candidates are "supportive of the process" because it's the law. "They are eager to have it all finalized," Senior said.

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— Elisha Fieldstadt