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Dice Roll to Determine Winner of School Board Seat Tomorrow in Brea Olinda Unified

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 4, 2020

Incumbent Gail Lyons (R) and Challenger Lauren Barnes (D)

Brea Olinda Unified School District Incumbent Gail Lyons (R) and Challenger Lauren Barnes (D)

After an extraordinary election result, a roll of the dice tomorrow morning will determine the winner of 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.

All through the November ballot counting, the lead switched back and forth between incumbent Lyons and challenger Barnes, and the two of them tied several times.

When the election was certified on November 24 (the night before Thanksgiving), Barnes had defeated Lyons by 1 vote: 1805 votes (50.01%) for Barnes, 1804 votes (49.99%) for Lyons.

4,164 people in Trustee Area 5 had voted, but only 3,609 voted for school board.  In other words, 555 people cast ballots for other things (e.g. President, Congress, Legislature, City Council, ballot measures) but left school board blank.  There are 4,674 registered voters there, so 510 people did not turn out to vote at all.

Lyons requested a recount, which was conducted on December 2-3.  It turns out 1 of the 555 people had actually voted for Lyons: that voter had clearly marked their ballot for Lyons but had not filled in the bubble.  Consequently, while the counting machines did not register that vote for Lyons, the hand recount did.  As such, 3,610 votes were cast for school board: 1,805 each for Lyons and Barnes.  (Only 554 people had left school board blank.)

There are only 2 precincts in Trustee Area 5, and Lyons and Barnes each won 1 precinct.  They live in the same precinct, which Lyons won.

California Education Code Section 5016 specifies, “If a tie vote makes it impossible to determine either which of two or more candidates has been elected to the governing board…The governing board may either call a runoff election or determine the winner or winners by lot. Prior to conducting any school board election…the governing board of each school district shall establish which of such procedures is to be employed by the district in the event of a tie vote.”

Brea Olinda Unified School District Board Bylaw Section 9220 specifies, “Whenever a tie makes it impossible to determine which of two or more candidates has been elected to the Board, the Board shall immediately notify the candidates who received the tie votes of the time and place where lots shall be cast to determine the winner.”

The phrases “by lot” and “casting of lots” mean to determine randomly.  So here we are.  The Brea Olinda Unified School District Board of Education has announced an extraordinary Saturday special meeting at 9:00 AM tomorrow with a single agenda item: “Finalize Trustee Area 5 Election.”

The staff recommendation reads, “Recommend the Board of Education determine the winner of Trustee Area 5 by lot in accordance with Board Bylaw 9220  using the following method: Casting Dice.”

Assuming the Board approves the recommendation, a roll of the dice will determine whether Gail Lyons wins another term or Lauren Barnes unseats her, and the winner of the dice roll will hold the school board seat for the next four years.

The BOUSD Board has 3 Republicans (Nicole Colon, Paul Ruiz, and Member-Elect Deanna Miller) and 1 NPP (Carrie Flanders).  Republicans had already captured Democrat Keri Kropke’s seat with the election of Deanna Miller, so the dice roll determines whether the Board will be 4 Republicans and 1 NPP (if Lyons wins) or 3 Republicans, 1 Democrat, and 1 NPP (if Barnes wins).  If Lyons wins, that means Republicans captured one seat from the Democrats on the BOUSD Board; if Barnes wins, that means Republicans and Democrats each traded a seat (Republican Miller replacing Democrat Kropke and Democrat Barnes replacing Republican Lyons).

OC Political will attempt to carry a live-stream of the meeting tomorrow morning.

Posted in Brea Olinda Unified School District | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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