The outcome of two local elections in two different counties were left to chance on Friday.
The Town of Ranlo and the City of Monroe each tossed a coin to determine the winner in each of their races.
Tails Wins The Election
A coin toss decided the winner in the last Ranlo Commissioner seat. Corey Creech & Ronnie Laws tied with 133 votes. Creech selected heads. We just learned one voter submitted & confirmed a blank ballot that could have made a difference. #everyvotecounts pic.twitter.com/QZgWa3slrx
— Ken (@kenlemonWSOC9) November 17, 2023
In Ranlo, tails won Ronnie Laws the last commissioner seat after he tied Corey Creech.
Elections officials told Channel′s Ken Lemon one person intentionally submitted a blank ballot, which could have changed the entire outcome of the race. That blank ballot likely set up the chance selection.
The moment officials said “the vote is tied” was a tense one at the Gaston County Board of Elections. At that point, the hard campaigning of two candidates for Ranlo town commissioner was left to the flip of a coin.
Laws and Creech both went to the Board of Elections on Friday knowing the situation was out of their control.
“Right now I’m really nervous,” Laws said.
For voters- Take this as a sign that your vote really can make a difference.
For candidates and campaigns- That extra hour of door knocks or phone calls is worth it.
Monroe mayor: Decided by a coin flip
Ranlo commissioner: Decided by a coin flip
Mt. Pleasant mayor: 1 vote…
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) November 17, 2023
“At this point, I think it’s definitely in God’s hands,” Creech said.
But it didn’t have to come to this. Officials said 394 people voted in the election. The two candidates tied for the last available seat with 133 votes each.
One voter submitted a blank ballot. Election workers said the machine wouldn’t accept the ballot until the voter confirmed they were submitting a ballot with no votes.
“It goes to show that the old adage ‘every vote matters’ is true,” said town manager Jonathan Blanton.
The State Board of Elections says when fewer than 5,000 votes are cast, the winner is selected by a coin flip.
“A coin has two sides, a heads and a tails. And it’s pure random, pure chance,” elections director Adam Ragan said.
Election officials said it’s been at least 18 years since chance was used to decide a winner in Gaston County, making Friday’s coin toss historic.
Laws accepted the win but would have preferred not to get it by chance.
“I’d prefer to have won it with one, two, three, four, or whatever more votes,” he said.
If that sounds odd, consider this. There are 2,800 registered voters in Ranlo. Of those, 347 voters and one coin decided the election for the other 88% of voters in town.
Elections officials believe turnout was low because neither the mayor nor federal offices were on the ballot.
Monroe mayoral race
The new mayor of Monroe was also decided by a coin flip on Friday.
The race between former CMPD Officer Bob Yanacsek and Robert Burns came down to the wire, but after the coin toss, Burns became the new mayor.
After counting the remaining provisional and absentee ballots, Burns and Yanacsek tied with 970 votes. Both waived their right for a recount, which led to the coin toss.
Yanascek called heads and the coin landed on tails.
(WATCH BELOW: Panthers writer Darin Gantt works polls on Election Day)