OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Live from the Dice Roll to Decide the Election in Brea Olinda School Board Area 5

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 5, 2020

At the bottom of this post is the YouTube video of the special board meeting of the Brea Olinda Unified School District that was held for the sole purpose of rolling dice to determine the winner of the tied election for the Trustee Area 5 seat on the board of the Brea-Olinda Unified School District: incumbent Gail Lyons (R), 57, or challenger Lauren Barnes (D), 26. When the Registrar of Voters certified the election, Barnes had 1,805 votes to Lyons’s 1,804 votes. After a recount, the Registrar discovered one of the undervotes had voted for Lyons, so they tied at 1,805 votes. Under California law, this tie will be resolved “by lot” (at random), and BOUSD has determined a dice roll will be the random decider. (BOUSD fun fact: from 1992-1994, two future State Assemblymembers served on the BOUSD Board together: Todd Spitzer and Lynn Daucher.)

This is certainly a bizarre live blog.

9:00 AM: Board President Nicole Colon calls the meeting to order. The roll is called, and all Board members are present.

9:01 AM: Superintendent Brad Mason leads the Pledge of Allegiance.

9:02 AM: Colon asks Mason for any comments. Mason calls this an “odd set of circumstances.” He does not want the rolling of dice to take away from such an important and serious matter.

9:03 AM: Colon accidentally thanks everyone for coming “this evening” and quickly corrects herself with a chuckle, noting she is so used to evening meetings of the school board.

9:03 AM: Colon asks for public comment. Mason confirms there are none.

9:04 AM: Colon introduces the item. Board Vice President Paul Ruiz moves and Board Member Carrie Flanders seconds the item. Mason notes this is a nondiscretionary vote, in that the result must be resolved by casting of lots. He explains the candidates will roll the same pair of dice, and he will sanitize the pair of dice in between each roll in light of COVID. (Challenger) Lauren Barnes will roll first, and then (incumbent) Gail Lyons rolls second. Whoever rolls the higher number will win the seat. In the event they tie, they will roll again.

9:06 AM: Mason demonstrates how the dice roll will be done. Two red dice will be in a red cup. The candidates will hold the cup away from their bodies, shake the cup, and release the dice on to the table.

9:07 AM: Mason cleans the dice with sanitizing wipes.

9:08 AM: Mason asks Barnes to come to the podium and roll the dice. She rolls a 1 and 1, rolling a total of 2. Things are not looking good for her, as that is the lowest possible set of numbers one can roll with two dice.

9:09 AM: Mason asks Lyons to come to the podium and roll the dice. Lyons says, “I feel compelled to say a prayer for all of us.” She gives a prayer for everyone in the room, for the residents of Brea, for forgiveness, and for grace. She rolls a 1 and a 2, rolling a total of 3.

9:10 AM: Mason declares that incumbent Lyons has prevailed in the dice roll.

9:11 AM: Colon declares the word of the year is “unprecedented.” She thanks Barnes for her involvement in the process, and she urges her to stay involved. She notes that some in the room have experienced defeat before. She urges Barnes to reach out to the district. She congratulates Lyons on her re-election.

9:12 AM: The Board votes 5-0 to accept the result of the dice roll. Mason thanks both candidates and all others in attendance for this “inauspicious ending” of the election.

9:13 AM: The Board adjourns this extraordinary special meeting to hold a dice roll to decide the tied election.

Meeting begins at 15:48 in the video.

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