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Mercer County races decided by ping pong balls after election ends in ties

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MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Voting matters. Four election ties were broken Friday in Mercer County.

Pennsylvania election code breaks ties through a casting of lots. Counties have different variations.

Mercer County uses numbered ping pong balls, which are picked out of a bag. Whoever draws the number 1 ball wins.

“It’s kind of weird, but you have to determine it somehow so I guess it’s the way it is,” said Mark Skidmore, a candidate for Coolspring Township supervisor.

Three of the four ties involved breaking a tie to determine which candidate gets a higher position on the ballot.

“Ballot position in Pennsylvania is determined by two factors in the November election,” said Mercer County Director of Elections Jeff Greenburg. “First one is the party of the sitting governor. In this case, it’s Democrat this year and then they are listed by the number of votes they received in the primary.”

Douglas Robbins, Christopher Combine and Chris Ewing pulled the 1s to get the tiebreaking vote and receive higher ballot positions.

The other tie to be broken would pick a winner in the Republican nomination for Coolspring Township supervisor. The two candidates, Dale Bestwick and Mark Skidmore, were separated by one vote on election night.

Bestwick had the lead but Skidmore got an extra absentee vote. Each candidate ended with 96 votes.

“Very rare once we start getting to that level of votes to see a tie,” Greenburg said.

The election bag had two ping pong balls. Bestwick drew the number 1 ball and will advance to challenge Democrat Rich Filer.

“I hope Mark comes back in two years because he’s an operator and that’s what we need if we’re going to do road maintenance,” Bestwick said.

“I think he’s qualified to be township supervisor as well as I thought I was, so I will be happy to support him and have my people support him,” Skidmore said.

Bestwick and Skidmore will be linked for this primary election battle and for the interesting way the race was decided.

“I’m kind of glad it went the way it did, I guess, and we’ll see where it goes from here,” Bestwick said.

Greenburg can remember a Hermitage race a decade ago that ended in a tie. The candidate who lost the tiebreaker admitted his wife hadn’t voted in the election.

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