Vote canvass leaves Democratic House candidates in tie race

A Democratic race for state representative that was expected to be decided Monday instead ended in a tie race. After the Aug. 2, 2016, primary election, the race for Kansas House District 76 stood at 395 votes for Kelly Atherton and 389 votes for Teresa Briggs. With election officials canvassing the votes in Coffey, Osage and Lyon counties Monday morning, including provisional ballots that had not been counted in last week’s unofficial totals, it was expected that a winner would be unofficially determined. Instead, both candidates received enough provisional votes to tie at 397 each.

Tallies from county election officers show that Briggs gained 2 votes in Osage County, for a total of 151 votes for Briggs and 68 for Atherton; in Coffey County, Briggs gained 2 votes, with a total of 120 for Briggs and 131 for Atherton; and in Lyon County, Briggs gained 4 votes for a total of 126, and Atherton gained 2 votes for a total of 198.

Election officials in all three counties said they were unsure of the procedure for breaking the tie, but said the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office would make the determination after county election abstracts are officially reported to the state. An inquiry to the Secretary of State’s Office by Osage County News about the tie-breaking procedure has not been answered today.

The two Democrat candidates for the district that covers all of Coffey County and portions of Lyon and Osage counties spent a “nail-biting” election evening as ballots were counted. The evening ended in the closest race in the state’s House primary contests, with Atherton at 6 votes ahead.

On election night, Briggs noted the race would likely be decided by county officials during canvassing due to the candidates’ close tallies.

“This process will give us the final count … as we are currently 6 votes apart,” Briggs said. “Kelly and I have already agreed that this was a race run without petty remarks or backbiting. We women know how to do it right. Whatever the final outcome, we will be ever closer to having a fresh and reasonable perspective in Topeka and a commitment to serve the residents of the 76th District.”

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