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SURPRISE! Deciding a tied election by coin toss is allowed by law

It is not unusual for elections at the national and local levels to be decided by narrow margins. However, on certain instances, there may be two or more candidates that end up having the same number of votes.

For example, the winner of the mayoralty race in Bocaue, Bulacan was determined through a coin toss after contenders Joni Villanueva and Jim Valerio both earned exactly 16,694 votes. Villanueva, daughter of Jesus Is Lord founder Eddie Villanueva and sister of Senator-elect Joel Villanueva, was eventually proclaimed the winner after getting three points in four rounds of coin-tossing.

Many are asking if there’s a legal basis for what the Commission on Elections did in that case and in similar tied elections elsewhere in the country. The practice, in fact, is prescribed in Section 240 of the Omnibus Election Code. The provision outlines possible courses of action in races where there’s two or more candidates that received an equal and highest number of votes.

mayor joni villanueva

Joni Villanueva has been proclaimed the new mayor of Bocaue, Bulacan after winning a coin toss.

When such occurrence happens, the city or municipal board of canvassers shall issue a resolution calling for a special public meeting at which the board of canvassers shall proceed to the drawing of lots with the candidates who have tied and shall proclaim as winner the candidates who may be favored by luck.

The law stresses that the candidate who emerges victorious through this process shall nevertheless have the right to assume office “in the same manner as if he or she had been elected by plurality of vote.” The board of canvassers will then make a certificate stating the name of the candidate who had been favored by luck and his or her proclamation on the basis thereof. Of course, losing in the coin toss does not prevent a candidate from filing an election protest or seeking a recount.

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